Cat Smith MP at the Windrush 75 Exhibition - Media Credits: James Scowcroft, Wayward Production House
Cat Smith MP at the Windrush 75 Exhibition - Media Credits: James Scowcroft, Wayward Production House

I recently attended the launch of the Windrush 75 Exhibition at Lancaster City Museum. This is a special exhibition to mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush and celebrate the impact of Caribbean culture on British life. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, The Dukes and the City Museum have collaborated to deliver an exciting new community-led project, combining photography from school workshops, personal stories, and first-hand accounts from the Windrush era.

The ‘Windrush generation’ came to the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971. The MV Empire Windrush had arrived in Tilbury on 22 June 1948, bringing workers from the Caribbean to help address a post-war labour shortage in the UK. Industries such as National Rail, the NHS and public transport recruited almost exclusively from Jamaica and Barbados. The story about the Windrush Generation is integral to understanding British History and yet the cultural impact and national contribution of these communities is far too often overlooked.

The Windrush scandal, a national disgrace caused by the racism that has disfigured British immigration policy for decades, saw thousands of people wrongly classified as illegal immigrants. British citizens were wrongly detained, denied legal rights and threatened with deportation. Unfortunately, this hostile environment and policy is still marring the government’s treatment of migrants in search of a better life and the Windrush generation are still fighting for justice for their dreadful treatment. With this considered, I think that it’s crucial to celebrate the diverse and multi-ethnic society which we are all lucky enough to live in. Windrush was not the beginning of multicultural Britain; this country has always been a place of migration and a hub for cultural exchange. The artistic contributions of the Caribbean community are particularly strong in the music scene. The fusion of Jamaican reggae into British music developed genres such as drum and bass, dubstep and laid the foundations for many electronic styles such as dancehall, UK garage, ragga and hip hop.

This exhibition makes an interesting day out for the family and is a great option for a rainy day. If you haven’t visited yet, I would urge you to do so before its run ends on Thursday 31st August.

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