When the Windrush Generation arrived in Britain from the Caribbean, they brought with them a huge amount of art, music and writing that would transform British culture forever. However, the work of Caribbean people and their contribution to British art and culture is often not recognised. 

Music

Watch the video above to hear interviews with first and second generation migrants talking about the importance of music in their lives, on a personal, social and cultural level. They discuss Saturday night parties, masquerade, carnival, musical culture in school and who their influences were. 

When the Windrush Generation arrived in Britain, the music scene was primarily made up of swing music and dance bands. Musicians coming from the Caribbean brought styles such as ska, reggae, jazz and Latin American music that fused with British music to revolutionise the music scene. Many of the genres that are popular today, such as drum and bass and dubstep, have their roots in Caribbean culture.

Task: Listen to this playlist of music from the Geraldine Connor Foundation's production Sorrel & Black Cake, featuring Bob Marley, Delroy Wilson, The Heptones, Jimmy Cliff and Miss Lou, among others. You could have a go at replicating some of the rhythms you hear and creating your own song inspired by Caribbean music. Don't forget to share on social media if you do! 

Poetry

Learn about three poets that were born in the UK to Caribbean parentage. You can download their poems here

Khadijah Ibrahiim

Khadijah is of Jamaican parentage and was born in Leeds. She produces the Leeds Youth Poetry Slam festival and is also a playwright, and is the writer behind the theater production ‘Sorrel and Black Cake’. You will have seen her in the videos we created for the Windrush Learning Resource. 

Come What May We're Here 2 Stay (After Windrush) describes the arrival from Jamaica to England. The reader is introduced to a narrative of struggle in an unfriendly political and social environment.

From the book: Another Crossing (2014, Peepal Tree Press)

Dorothea Smartt

Dorothea is of Barbadian descent and was born and grew up in London.  She has lectured on creative arts at Leeds University.

Generations Dreaming I addresses the Windrush Generation – Smartt creates a picture of her parent’s migration from Barbados to Britain. “It links the past to the present, identity and culture” and the concept of ambition and dreams for the future in an unknown place full of promises to re-style the motherland.

From the book: Connecting Medium (2001, Peepal Tree Press)

Malika Booker

Malika was born in England and has worked with organisations including the Arts Council England, the BBC and the British Council.  Her parents are of Guyanese and Grenadian descent.

Granny's Love Poem looks at the relationship of grandmother and granddaughter. Some parents left their child for long periods of time with grandparents while they went abroad to work and sometimes parents had children in two locations; they become strangers with blood ties.

From the book: Pepper Seed (2013, Peepal Tree Press)

Task: Read the three poems and discuss with a friend or family member what is being said. Choose one and create a written, visual or movement response. You could think about: 

  • What is the poem/story about?
  • Who is the narrator?
  • How do you get a sense of Caribbean and British culture?
  • Where is the location of the poem/story set?
  • What is the emotion and the mood conveyed?

Further Reading

The contribution to culture from the Windrush Generation and their descendants is huge. We have compiled a list of further reading, with the help of Peepal Tree Press, who publish Caribbean and Black British fiction, poetry, literary criticism, memoirs and historical studies. In it, you will find an eclectic mix of novels, poetry, plays and non-fiction publications.

Windrush Reading List

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