Blog Archive

Sunday 23 June 2013


Join the Call For Windrush Day and Sign the Petition

By Zita Holbourne


This week I joined the call for a National Windrush Day signing a letter published in The Times alongside journalists, activists, trade union leaders, politicians, authors, academics and celebrities. On the 65th anniversary of the arrival of Empire Windrush, 22nd June 2013  a petition was launched , I addressed the 4000 strong People's Assembly and announced the campaign to rapturous applause from the audience.  I believe that the massive contribution Caribbean migrants to the UK against a background of hostility and racism and signs of 'No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs' when they arrived, have made should be acknowledged and celebrated. Especially in this period of austerity impacting disproportionately on black workers, service users and communities, where race equality on the political agenda has been replaced with racism and institutional racism has increased.

 watch the video of me speaking at the People's Assembly about the campaign


In support of the campaign I am dedicating my poem, Redefining History .




Windrush Day is an opportunity to give thanks for the positive contributions made by those who have come from overseas to Britain to our common home.
All of us – whether we are immigrants ourselves, the children and grandchildren of immigrants, or able to trace our family histories back to much earlier arrivals to Britain – have a responsibility to uphold a positive vision of multi-ethnic and multi-faith Britain as a shared society which is welcoming, just and fair to all.
Many aspects of British society today would be unrecognisable without the contributions which immigration and integration have made to our society over the generations: from the NHS to the monarchy, our language and literature, our culture and food, even the Olympic team that we cheered together last year.
It was therefore fitting that Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony featured the Windrush’s arrival as part of its popular account of how our history has shaped the country that we are today.
The 65th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks is a chance to reach across our many different ethnic, faith and family heritages, to reject prejudice and intolerance, and to shape a fair and inclusive future that we all want to share. This and every year, Windrush Day should be an inclusive celebration of the Britain that we are proud to call home.
For more information: please contact Patrick Vernon at Every Generation
British Future is a new independent, non-partisan thinktank seeking to involve people in an open conversation, which addresses people’s hopes and fears about identity and integration, migration and opportunity, so that we feel confident about Britain’s Future
Arthur Torrington CBE, Windrush Foundation
Sam King MBE, 1948 Windrush passenger
Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of 100 Great Black Britons
Revd. Sivakumar Rajagopalan London Baptist Association
Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future
Zadie Smith, Author
Malorie Blackman OBE, Children’s Laureate
Doreen Lawrence OBE
Diane Abbott MP
Gavin Barwell MP
Kris Hopkins MP
Dame Tessa Jowell MP
Sadiq Khan MP
David Lammy MP
Sarah Teather MP
Paul Uppal MP
Lord Victor Adebowale CBE
Baroness Elizabeth Berridge
Lord Alf Dubs
Baroness Oona King
Lord Herman Ouseley
Syed Kamall MEP
Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, Playwright
Lemn Sissay MBE, Author
Hardeep Singh Kohli
Camila Batmanghelidjh CBE, Chief Executive, Kids Company
John Akomfrah OBE, Film director
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE, Deputy Editor of Granta
Rosie Bairwal, National Co-ordinator, Catholic Association for Racial Justice
Dr Rob Berkeley, Director, The Runnymede Trust
Professor Dinesh Bhugra CBE, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
Ian Birrell, The Independent and former speechwriter for David Cameron
Julian Bond, Director, Christian Muslim Forum
Mihir Bose
Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum
Margaret Busby OBE, Publisher
Sokari Douglas Camp CBE
Dr Augustus Casely-Hayford, Historian
Ila Chandavarkar, Development Coordinator, MENTER
Karen Chouhan, Director, Equanomics
Anthony Clavane, sportswriter and author
Colette Corkhurst, Equality Officer Unite
Jeremy Crook OBE, Black Training & Enterprise Group
Felix Cross MBE, Artistic Director, Nitro Theatre Company
Luke Daniels, President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Richard Dowden, Director, The Royal African Society
Don Flynn, Director, Migrant Rights Network
Dr Robert Ford, University of Manchester
Bob Foster, Founder of Windrush Nurses and Beyond Foundation
Lord Anthony Gifford QC
Ram Gidoomal CBE, Chairman, South Asian Development Partnership
Sharon Grant, Secretary, The Bernie Grant Trust
Bonnie Greer OBE, Chancellor, Kingston University
Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, ROTA
Prof Stuart Hall, Professor Emeritus, Open University
Zita Holbourne, National Co-chair BARAC UK & PCS NEC
Lady Hollick OBE
Lester Holloway, Liberal Democrats Race Equality Taskforce
Sunny Hundal, editor, Liberal Conspiracy website
Revd. Wale Hudson-Roberts, Racial Justice Group, Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Rev Dr Michael N Jagessar, Moderator, Assembly of the United Reformed Church
Kamaljeet Jandu, National Officer GMB
Linton Kwesi Johnson
Venerable Danny Kajumba, Archdeacon of Reigate, Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns
Jackie Kay MBE, Author
Omar Khan, Chairman, Bradford Bulls RLFC
Ratna Lachman, Director, JUST West Yorkshire
Michelle Lawrence, Director, Link Up (UK) & the Great British Community
John Mayford, Director, OLMEC
Roger McKenzie OBE, Assistant General Secretary UNISON
Mia Morris OBE, Founder, Black History Month
Dr Susheila Nasta MBE FRAS
Maajid Nawaz, Co-founder and Chairman, Quilliam Foundation
Dr Alastair Niven LVO, OBE
Ms Lara Oyedele, Chair, BMENational
Dave Pendleton, curator, Bantams Past, Bradford City FC
Hugh Quarshie, Actor
Paulette Randall, Associate Director of the Olympics opening ceremony
Paul Reid, Director of Black Cultural Archives
Barbara Roche, Chair of Migration Museum
Sheila Rowbotham, Historian and writer
George Ruddock, Editor, The Voice Newspaper
Neena Samota, Coalition for Racial Justice (UK)
Marika Sherwood, historian, The Black and Asian Studies Association

Julie Siddiqi, Executive Director, Islamic Society of Britain
Dr Maria Sobolewska, University of Manchester
Dr Shirley J. Thompson, Composer
Daniel Trilling, New Statesman
Rudolph Walker OBE, Actor
Chris Whitwell, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers
Verna Wilkins, Author
Ansel Wong, Executive Director, Hansib Publications
Simon Woolley, Director, Operation Black Vote
Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council
Shirley McGreal, Publisher, Keep The Faith

Zita Holbourne is co-founder and National Co-Chair of BARAC UK, a trade union and community activist and a poet and artist.

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