Birmingham’s Windrush Generation

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Birmingham’s Windrush Generation

Who are the Windrush Generation?

An estimated 500,000 people now living in the UK arrived between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries. This group of people has been called the Windrush Generation. Many people settled in Birmingham, finding jobs in industries such as manufacturing and the NHS.

The Birmingham Black Oral History Project

In the 1990’s The Birmingham Black Oral History Project (BBOHP) was created in Handsworth to record the stories and lives of people from the Windrush Generation and people who came to Birmingham from places like India.

These stories were recorded as ‘Oral Histories’, a recorded interview with a person about their life, experiences and memories. An Oral History gives us a unique window into a period of history that we can’t experience for ourselves and allows us to hear the voices of the past. These are particularly in-depth recordings as they were given as ‘Life Testimonies’, covering the participants’ entire life story.

 These recordings are now all stored in the museum’s Sound Archive for us to preserve and learn from.

Below you will find a profile link for each person in the archive from the Windrush Generation and a link to where you can listen to their story on our City Sound Archive. This list will be added to as more recordings become available. (Photo credits © Kate Green, BBOHP).

Warning

These recordings include racially explicit content, including discussions of racism, prejudice and violence; racially explicit language; and language and phrasing that we would not use today. Some of this content might be unsuitable for younger listeners or triggering for People of Colour.

Activities to try out

For the little ones

Imagine you are going to leave your home to live in a different country, what would you pack in your suitcase?

Grab an old suitcase and different objects like a teddy bear, toothbrush, jumper etc. and get the children to pack it. If some things don’t fit talk about what it might feel like to have to leave those things behind.

Kids

  • Write a letter home; imagine you have travelled to the new country you are going to live in. Can you write a letter to your family or friends back home describing what life was like? Listen to the story of Esme Lancaster CD2 Track 4 for inspiration.
  • Use role play to imagine what life was like for those arriving in England. Can you act out the feelings of, excitement, fear, uncertainty, and wonder?
  • Teaching and inspiring young people was very important to Carton Duncan. Pick a topic that you are passionate about, then create a poster, leaflet or short speech which encourages people to learn more about the subject. You could pick a book, a kind of animal, a country that you know a lot about, or even your favourite museum!
  • Esme and Frank believed that travelling the world was a very important experience. As a class, discuss all the countries that you have visited, lived in or where your family members lived. Mark the countries on a map: what other places would you like to visit?

Young Adults

An Oral History is, principally, a recorded interview. Can you interview a member of your family about their life? Come up with a series of simple questions such as-

  • Where were you born?
  • What was school like for you?
  • Where was your first job?

 If you have the equipment, you could record the interview or simply write down their answers. Ask for a photo to go with your recording.

 Watch this performance by spoken word artist Sue Brown inspired by the experiences of her mother and father who came to England from Jamacia.

Check out more information here: