Celebrating Windrush 75

Like many other communities and organisations, the University of Derby is marking Windrush 75. It is 75 years since the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury in Essex - on 22 June 1948 - bringing people from all over the Caribbean. They were among the first of many invited to Britain to help the country rebuild after the Second World War, and many people perhaps don’t know of the link that Derby has to the Windrush generation. So we want to highlight this important connection, by understanding and recognising the contributions and sacrifices people made in leaving the Caribbean and heading to Derby.

Our shared history

At the University of Derby, we want to enable all our staff - academics, researchers and professional services - and our students to build and maintain a continuing interest in understanding our shared histories through lived experiences.

And we have a Derby-city story to tell in collaboration with our communities, a chance for recognition and a chance to mark a significant moment in our shared history. 

We want to make a commitment to our civic communities to engage with the University as experts and co-creators in lived experiences. As outlined in our civic pledge, we endeavour to open doors for everyone. 

A chance to celebrate Derby’s diversity

The University of Derby Gallery Network is the first publicly accessible network of gallery spaces within the new network of gallery spaces growing across the city and supported by School of Arts graduate, Elisha-Mai Gascoigne.

These spaces provide important university-wide engagement for our communities in the regions of Markeaton Street, Kedleston Road and Britannia Mill. Kedleston Road and Britannia Mill galleries will launch this year as an addition to Markeaton Street, allowing the public to engage in collaborative work partnered with our commitment to the Arts, Humanities and Education.

This is also an opportunity to celebrate our colleagues, researchers and students and their significant contribution to our focus on 'shifting the dial' on how we approach equity, diversity and inclusion, including our commitment to the Race Equality Charter. 

To increase the visibility and importance of how the issue of race affects society, the University, in partnership with colleagues from the Race Equality Network (REN), has established the annual Race Equality Lecture Series. The first was on 6 June featuring Dr Martin Glynn, from Birmingham City University. Provost for Research and Innovation, Professor Warren Manning opened the event, along with Cleveland Thompson, co-chair of REN. 

The lecture focused on changes in how we talk about race and learning with a specific focus on creative teaching, student learning and attainment. It discussed key themes such as a sense of belonging for staff and students of colour, as well as the awarding gap and student experiences.

Dr Glynn shared his journey into academia including experiences as a Criminologist, Screenwriter and Dramatist and how he has brought these experiences to life as a Lecturer in Black Studies, Sociology, Criminology and Performative Social Science, a recording of Martin's talk will be available on this webpage at a later date. 

Windrush 75 events

Thursday 22 June  

Windrush flag raising 

10.30am at St Peter Hilton Memorial Gardens, Corporation Street, Derby.

Windrush Stories: An Exploration of Migration with Dr Panya Banjoko

12.30pm at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

This talk will explore how black people negotiated and managed migration during the Windrush phase of immigration to the UK (1948 to 1972). It will look at how the black community developed organisations and systems to serve their needs in communities where they were subjected to substandard education, racial profiling and inadequate social provisions.

Dr Panya Banjoko will use oral history testimonies to uncover the stories of the Windrush generation and their impact on the East Midlands. 

Sunday 25 June 

Service of thanksgiving

11am at New Testament Church Of God, Alvaston.

Service of thanksgiving

11.30am at Assemblies of the First Born London Road, Derby.

There will be invited local dignitaries including MPs, councillors, local community organisations, and representation from the High Commissioners of the Caribbean nations.

Windrush reception

2pm at Derby West Indian Community Centre, Carrington Street, Derby.

An afternoon of entertainment to celebrate the history and contribution the Windrush Generation and their descendants have brought to Derby and the country. This will feature:

Further information

For enquires and expressions of interest, and or to get involved with co-creation and our public galleries, please contact our Windrush 75 lead Natalie Okpara-McFarlane at n.mcfarlane@derby.ac.uk.

If you are interested in joining the Race Equality Network or would like an informal chat about the work of the network, please email inclusion@derby.ac.uk for more information. 

Natalie is one of the University of Derby’s Business Development and Employability Managers in Research and Innovation and Windrush 75 lead. She says: "With my interest in diaspora, identity and community engagement, I can drive the University's strategy to explore these opportunities in line with our civic agenda and commitment to skills development."

Natalie has signed up to the Windrush 75 Network. The network helps to broaden public recognition of the contribution of the original Windrush pioneers, as well as increasing public understanding of the history of race and migration to Britain across the decades.

Natalie’s work includes:

These flags represent the countries involved in the journey of the Windrush.

Flags of countries involved in the journey of the winrdush

Marking a significant moment

Our academics, researchers and students have a continuing interest in understanding lived experiences. It is vital this research and the civic work involved continues. 

Dr Gemma Marmalade, Assistant Head of Discipline for Fine Art and Photography and Chief Curator of the University of Derby Gallery Network, explains: “Maleta is a research concept that, through a process of human engagement with transformational experiences, social change can be stimulated.”  

The project is inspired by Rail Ruiz’s the 1963 Chilean surrealist short film La Maleta, which depicts a person carrying a suitcase on their travels who learns that within the suitcase is another version of themselves (maleta is Spanish for suitcase). Maleta extends this symbolism for the possibilities of the suitcase as a repository for personal and collective illumination. 

Often used as a tool to challenge perceived societal conventions and prejudices, Maleta provides a context for discussion and critique through and with art practices, including the development, creation, display and curation of art works. Maleta to date has dealt with themes such as British colonial hierarchies in the USA, social and economic regeneration, representation of traveller communities, decolonisation, feminism, and queering. 

Contact: G.Marmalade@derby.ac.uk.

Postgraduate researcher Samantha Hudson's work explores the roots and culture of the African Caribbean Carnival in Britain as a post-colonial and post-migration practice.

The research concentrates on the East Midlands and wider networks of West Indian settlers reconnecting the cultural identity through Carnival. It investigates the relationship between Junkanoo cultural festival in practice that acknowledges the emancipation from slavery. 

The work will critically analyse the cultural heritage in the costume designs from the voice of the oppressed and the artistic creative practice in Carnival arts by creating characters of mas (masquerade). 

Samantha says: "Ethnography is a crucial part of my research methods. Quantitative data will be collected through an online survey conducted over the 2023 summer. This will allow the community and other partners to have their say. This is running in conjunction with gaining qualitative data through community interviews, focus groups, and case studies to capture the voice of the carnival as an inherited cultural practice.

"To accompany this, a practice-as-research element will support the methodology process - where I will build a Carnival costume to support my research findings."

You can take part in the University of Derby Caribbean Carnival research project by completing the UK Caribbean Carnival Consultation 2023

Contact: s.hudson11@unimail.derby.ac.uk

Instagram: samcarnival_fineart

This is a documentary by Philip Ranjit Basi, Programme Leader for Media Production BA (Hons) and MA Documentary, and Principal Lecturer in TV Production and Documentary Production.

It explores the rich history and cultural significance of the Derby Carnival, which is set to celebrate its momentous 50th anniversary in 2025. Through interviews with Samantha Hudson, a PhD student at the University, we delve into the historic importance of the carnival and how the local community demonstrated resilience during the Covid-19 lockdown by organizing a virtual edition of the event.

Furthermore, we examine the profound impact of the West Indian community on the cultural and economic landscape of Derby, as showcased in a prominent exhibition at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery – The Centre That Powers The Road.  

The Derby Carnival emerged as a celebration of Caribbean culture and heritage, providing a platform for diverse communities to express their identities through music, dance, costume, and storytelling. Dating back to its inception in 1975 the carnival has fostered a sense of belonging, unity, and pride among participants and attendees, showcasing the vibrant multiculturalism that defines Derby. 

To further celebrate and honour the history and contributions of the Derby Carnival, a viewing of the documentary is planned for the early autumn as part of Black History Month.

Masters Public History and Heritage student Hannah Sparkes's research uses case studies of reggae artists whose work contains a range of close as well as vague links to Jamaica to assess and establish where their inspiration comes from.

It also draws comparisons and contrasts to scholarship on reggae music played in other countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana and islands in the Pacific to further demonstrate the intangible heritage being used as an expression of other nations' heritage. The aim will be to determine the degree to which reggae music can be considered as exclusively a Jamaican intangible heritage practice.

UNESCO added reggae music to its list of intangible heritage originating from Jamaica in 2018. The content of the music itself is described to be the "voice of the marginalised" as well as expressing sentiments on religion, love and inequality. With the beginning of reggae music coming from Jamaica as a combination of existing genres ska and rock steady, reggae has come to be a great influence worldwide.

From the country itself and the broader Jamaican diaspora, reggae music and further features of Jamaican culture associated with it have influenced musicians who are apart of other identities who may or may not have links with the island of Jamaica. Because of this, the development of reggae into what the genre contains to date is significantly broader than simply a Jamaican intangible practice. 

Contact: h.sparkes1@unimail.derby.ac.uk.  

Listen to our reggae playlist

Cath Williams's PhD research project explores the lived experiences of a group of older African Caribbean women who migrated to England in the 1960s. As citizens of the British Empire, they were called to the 'Mother Country', pulled by the opportunities for social mobility and betterment that most of them were denied in the colonial Caribbean.

The women were part of the Windrush generation, though they came to England more than ten years after the early pioneers, only to face the same experiences of unbelonging, hostility and discrimination to their presence. At the same time, they were needed to work and were often expected to undertake the undesirable jobs that white Britons regarded beneath them.  

Many of these women were also mothers, who left behind their children to come to help rebuild Britain. Yet they were treated as workers, while their mothering roles were ignored.

Most of the women came with a five-year plan for returning, but it took many of them several years to reconnect with their children and families. England’s streets were not paved with gold and so the women and mothers had to manage the separation from their children and loved ones, alongside their settlement.

The project uses focus groups and interviews to explore the women’s memories of family separation and reunification to better understand the transnational lives of mothers who migrate and to highlight the needs of migrant mothers and their families. The data highlights the central themes of resilience, sacrifice, and adventure, adding to the literature on Black family studies, transnationalism and post-colonial and Black feminist scholarship. 

Migration for mothers results in a disruption to orthodox notions of mothering, as mothers are forced to mother from a distance. Consequently, migration continues to cause family separation as it pulls on the migrant mother’s need to provide economically for her children and family.

The study’s recommendations advocate that an intersectional perspective is needed to work with migrant women and transnational families that addresses the multiple needs of previous and contemporary migrant families. 

Contact: Cath.Williams@nottingham.ac.uk

Dr Teresa Forde's chapter appears in Critical Pedagogy, Race, and Media: Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education Teaching,  Susan Flynn & Melanie A. Marotta Editors, London: Routledge 2022.

This chapter considers UK television drama as a conduit for expressing lived experience and social critique. It draws upon the work of a number of key theorists within critical race theory and their focus on institutional racism. The underlying perspective is that racism does not emerge but is endemic and needs to be challenged within lived experience.

Educational practices can work to attempt to establish space for articulation and critique. Narratives within contemporary television drama foreground individuals whose voices speak to different experiences, both in the past and the present, and of characters who are also intersectionally embedded whilst critically raising issues about their stories.

Within the UK, recent dramas such as the Small Axe Anthology, Sitting in Limbo, and I May Destroy You offer a socio-critical perspective in relation to contemporary cultural assumptions. Institutional practices regarding racism, such as the Windrush scandal, and intersectional experiences related to gender, make these stories the central focus of experiences emerging within contemporary and historical racism.

The chapter is a learning tool to recognise challenges to racism and the ways in which contemporary drama provides a catalyst for asking questions and offering platforms for dissent.

Professor Samuel Kasule teaches Post-colonial Literature, Post-colonial Theories, and Drama. Within our English programme, pre- and post-Windrush migration experiences are embedded in a suite of modules allowing students to focus on the numerous and alternative ways of knowing that emerge from Black, African Caribbean and ethnic minority cultures and politics. 

There have been many undergraduate dissertations on this topic but two dissertations that stand out examine the poignant memories in the writing by mixed race people on mixed race experiences in the British and American Caribbean diasporas: ‘“Not Just Passing”: Contemporary Literary Representations of Mixed-Race Female Characters’; and “Discourses of Race and Mixed Identity in Contemporary Literature”. 

Modules taught include works that relate to the Windrush or memories of the Windrush migration:

World Literatures: Travel Writing

A first-year module where students study world fiction that contains texts written on the African Caribbean migration such as Andrea Levy's Small Island and Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Small Worlds, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

Theatricality and Madness

A second-year module where students study drama on African Caribbean and African American descendants of the formerly enslaved such as Kwei-Armah's Elmina's Kitchen, which, apart from representing different experiences of three generations of Black British people starting from the Windrush generation, also signifies on the largest surviving slave castle, Elmina’s Castle (Ghana), and August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Fences.

Colonialism and Independence

This level-six module focuses on the colonial encounter and covers colonial and post-colonial texts on India, Africa, and the Caribbean, including Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, a response to Jane Eyre, and Ngugi wa Thiongo’s A Grain of Wheat, which reflects on the Kenyan Mau May rebellion.

Riots and Rebels

On this level-six module, students spend three weeks studying theatres of resistance against apartheid in South Africa, and another week on the eminent African Caribbean writer Aime Caeser's A Tempest, a writing back to Shakespeare's The Tempest, and a week on the African Canadian Janet Sears’s Hamlet Duet, whose parents migrated from the Caribbean to Britain, and finally settled in Canada.  

Global Literatures: Travel Writing

At level seven, the MA students study not only the South African writer Coetzee's Foe, a reworking of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, but also Atlantic Sound by Carl Philipps, an African Caribbean writer whose parents travelled from the Caribbean just after Windrush, which is a diary that traces the parents' voyage to England and examines his search for 'home'. 

The modules bring together prominent national (UK) and international scholars and writers – critics, novelists, dramatists and theorists whose work concentrates on the cultures, politics, and practices, and ways of how Black and ethnic minority epistemologies shape literature and critical thinking. Texts, performances and films stemming from African American, African Caribbean, African Europeans, and African are included. Modules are interdisciplinary, students study the history, culture and politics of both the African, African Europeans, African Caribbeans, and other Black people so that when they talk about literature, history, taste, and culture they connect the buried history. 

At the core of the modules is very intensive learning, so every single text read includes at least three disciplines – Literature, Culture and History. When we talk about a text, we do not only look at the literary, but also the cultural and historical perspectives. In other words, we look at literature and society. In addition, we screen films and DVDs on various aspects.  

Our students come from interdisciplinary backgrounds with varied heritage. As such, we are primed to look at issues of Windrush, Blacks, African Caribbeans, African Europeans, and Africans in the UK from a very interdisciplinary perspective.  

It is important to create a new narrative around current issues of identity, politics and culture and students come to the modules with very open minds. Literature has the potential to teach diverse communities, to share and unlock knowledge.  

There are identity issues that are particularly poignant in today's cultural and political climate, and one issue that is critical is the right of people of mixed race/bi-racial heritage to have an identity about which they might talk. They want to have their cultural and social lives discussed on their own terms. The identity issues they experience are different. The Black studies/post-colonial literature courses have taken new urgency in the current climate, after the Black Lives Matter movement and current identity politics, which plays a key role.

Sam and Professor Paul Elliott (University of Derby) are also collaborating with Professor Osita Okagbue (Goldsmiths College), Professor Julius Heinicke (Institut für Kulturpolitik Universität Hildesheim, Germany), Dr Sola Adeyemi (University of East Anglia) and Dr Pepetual Mforbe Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany), on the research project, New Identities and New Spaces: African-European Performances in Germany and the United Kingdom.

Contact: s.kasule@derby.ac.uk.  

Dr Oliver Godsmark, is our Senior Lecturer in History and Programme Leader for MA History. He convenes two modules on our BA History course specifically related to Windrush.

Empires, Migrants and Global Mobility

On this module, our first-year students spend a week looking at 'Postcolonial Mobilities', during which they are introduced to inward migration to Europe from the colonies and former colonies of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

As part of the seminar on this topic, students discuss the reasons behind migration to Britain from the Caribbean and South Asia, examining the status of such migrant communities as British subjects, commenting on post-war reconstruction, and considering a variety of 'push' factors that persuaded them to leave their homes.

This culminates in a case-study looking at Smethwick during the 1960s, particularly in the context of the racist rhetoric employed by Conservative candidate Peter Griffiths ahead of the 1964 General Election.

Students examine how black and South Asian communities countered such hostility by employing transnational ideas and strategies taken from the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements in the United States and South Africa.  

Derby and the World

This is another of our first-year modules, which brings together two strands of history: global microhistory; and public history. During one of our seminars, students consider the question of 'Who Owns the Past?' in the context of 'Twentieth-Century Industry' in Derby.

In this context, students engage with a lecture that places the changing demographic composition of Derby's suburbs in the context of Windrush and other major migrations. They then use this knowledge to reflect on the contributions of migrant communities to Derby's position as an industrial powerhouse during this period.

Students consider the extent to which these contributions have been neglected or forgotten about in dominant accounts of Derby's history, before analysing recent efforts to restore black and South Asian history in Derby. We have looked, for example, at the Derby West Indian Community Association (DWICA)'s exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, and the pop-up display on 'Diasporas holding authorities to account'. The latter, based in the World Cultures Gallery at Derby Museum in the latter half of 2022, explored DWICA's role in supporting individuals impacted by the Windrush Scandal.