2023 marks one of the most significant years for national celebration — with this year being the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush, the coronation of King Charles, and the NHS’ 75th birthday. The Windrush celebrations will mark the moment when hundreds of immigrants travelled on the ship from the Caribbean to the UK in 1948. It brought one of the first large groups of post-war immigrants to the country, who went on to play a major role in rebuilding the country and public services, as well as their continuing contribution to British culture.
Actor Sir Lenny Henry, the head of the V&A Tristram Hunt and the artistic director of the Young Vic Kwame Kewi-Armah are representatives of the Windrush 75 campaign, and they will kickstart arts, sports, business and faith celebrations across the country.
In 2018, the government introduced Windrush Day on the 22nd of June, and in anticipation, the campaign is set to be planning special events and programmes. The V&A, headed by Hunt, will be playing a major role in the anniversary, by hosting talks and workshop events through their collections to showcase artists and designers from Windrush, as well as those who explore Caribbean culture through their work.
Sir Lenny Henry’s one-man play about the injustices of the Windrush Scandal will be shown at the Bush theatre in West London, and will detail the time that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens were wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights. First explored by Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman, the investigation reported the experiences of the wrongdoings that first surfaced far too recently in 2017 and 2018, giving more of a reason to hear the stories through the work this year. Henry will also air a six-part drama on ITV later this year, Three Little Birds, as part of his contribution.
Patrick Vernon, convenor of the Windrush 75 campaign, says on the organisation’s site that “the event is a major part of Britain’s history that every child should learn about at school. The 75th anniversary is something every institution should mark in a significant way in 2023.”
In a poll released by the group, they found that 60% of people in Britain agree that “Britain owes a great deal to the Windrush generation of migrants and should recognise their contribution as part of our national story.” A further 62% agree that the story should be taught in schools, and are calling for more to be done in educating about the Windrush story to all Britons as part of the country’s history, and its effects on modern arts and culture.