Windrush Day in the festival spirit before the Supermoon. By Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay

By Lemn Sissay, GDIF writer in residence

 Saturday 22 June 2013, GDIF

It’s a beautiful morning for a festival. I’ll be in Greenwich  behind the Cutty Sark in the Mobile Library parked by The Whale in the grounds of The Naval College.  How many times in my life will I say that!!    Yesterday I signed a letter published in the Times. Today  is the 65th anniversary of  the arrival of Windrush. at Tilbury Docks.  Tonight it is a festival  super moon – A festival moon.

Sir, Windrush Day — June 22 — is an opportunity to give thanks for the positive contributions made by those who have come from overseas to Britain. 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 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 fitting that the Olympic opening ceremony featured the Windrush’s arrival as part of its popular account of how our history has shaped us.

The 65th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks is a chance to reject prejudice and intolerance, and to shape a fair and inclusive future. This and every year, Windrush Day should be an inclusive celebration of the Britain that we are proud to call home.

Signed by Arthur Torrington, Windrush Foundation; Sam King, 1948 Windrush passenger; Patrick Vernon, founder of 100 Great Black Britons; the Rev Sivakumar Rajagopalan, London Baptist Association; Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future; the Rev Dr Michael N. Jagessar, Moderator, Assembly of the United Reformed Church; Zadie Smith, author; Malorie Blackman, Children’s Laureate; Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Kris Hopkins, MP; Dame Tessa Jowell, MP; Sadiq Khan, MP; David Lammy, MP; Sarah Teather, MP; Paul Uppal, MP; Gavin Barwell, MP; Diane Abbott, MP; Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress; Lord Herman Ouseley; Doreen Lawrence; Lord Victor Adebowale; Kwame Kwei-Armah, Playwright; Lemn Sissay, Author; Hardeep Singh Kohli; Camila Batmanghelidjh, Chief Executive, Kids Company; Bob Foster, Founder of Windrush Nurses and Beyond Foundation; Dr Rob Berkeley, Director, The Runnymede Trust; Simon Woolley, Director, Operation Black Vote; Ram Gidoomal, Chairman, South Asian Development Partnership; Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council; Julie Siddiqi, Executive Director, Islamic Society of Britain; Maajid Nawaz, Co-founder and Chairman, Quilliam Foundation; Professor Stuart Hall, Professor Emeritus, Open University; the Venerable Danny Kajumba, Archdeacon of Reigate, Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns; the Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, Racial Justice Group, Baptist Union of Great Britain; Rosie Bairwal, National Co-ordinator, Catholic Association for Racial Justice; George Ruddock, Editor, The Voice newspaper; Julian Bond, Director, Christian Muslim Forum; Don Flynn, Director, Migrant Rights Network; Luke Daniels, President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity; Richard Dowden, Director, The Royal African Society; Michelle Lawrence, Director, Link Up (UK) & the Great British Community; Dr Susheila Nasta, FRAS; Dr Alastair Niven; Sharon Grant, Secretary, The Bernie Grant Trust; Sokari Douglas Camp; Sheila Rowbotham, Historian and writer; Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum; Lara Oyedele, Chair, BMENational; Ratna Lachman, Director, JUST West Yorkshire; Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, ROTA; Barbara Roche, Chair of Migration Museum; Chris Whitwell, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers; Marika Sherwood, historian, The Black and Asian Studies Association; Lester Holloway, Liberal Democrats Race Equality Taskforce; John Mayford, Director, OLMEC; Ila Chandavarkar, Development Coordinator, MENTER; Paul Reid, Director of Black Cultural Archives; Karen Chouhan, Director, Equanomics; Neena Samota, Coalition for Racial Justice (UK); Mia Morris, Founder, Black History Month; Jeremy Crook, Black Training & Enterprise Group; Linton Kwesi Johnson; Baroness Elizabeth Berridge; Lord Anthony Gifford, QC; Zita Holbourne, National Co-chair BARAC UK & PCS NEC; Kamaljeet Jandu, National Officer GMB; Colette Corkhurst, Equality Officer Unite; Roger McKenzie, Assistant General Secretary UNISON; Paulette Randall, Associate Director of the Olympics opening ceremony; Mihir Bose; Hugh Quarshie, actor; Omar Khan, Chairman, Bradford Bulls RLFC; Ian Birrell, The Independent and former speechwriter for David Cameron; Rudolph Walker, actor; John Akomfrah, Film director; Dr Augustus Casely-Hayford, historian; Anthony Clavane, sportswriter and author; Sunny Hundal, editor, Liberal Conspiracy website; Daniel Trilling, New Statesman; Felix Cross, Artistic Director, Nitro Theatre Company; Margaret Busby, publisher; Jackie Kay, author; Lady Hollick; Dave Pendleton, curator, Bantams Past, Bradford City FC; Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Deputy Editor of Granta; Verna Wilkins, author; Dr Shirley J. Thompson, composer; Ansel Wong, Executive Director, Hansib Publications; Bonnie Greer, Chancellor, Kingston University; Professor Dinesh Bhugra, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London; Dr Maria Sobolewska, University of Manchester; Dr Robert Ford, University of Manchester

Lemn Sissay is our writer in residence at GDIF and he will be around throughout.

Browse our full Festival programme including our Greenwich Fair and Island Fair  event listings and meet Lemn at the Festival from Fri 21-Sun 23!

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