A community project telling the stories of Leicester’s Black community has opened at the African Caribbean Centre.
Six interpretation panels celebrating Leicester’s Windrush generation were officially unveiled to an audience of invited guests from the local community on Friday (8 Oct) by Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE and city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.
Earlier in the day, local schoolchildren took part in workshops and activities at the centre to tie in with the project. They had the opportunity to hear Baroness Floella Benjamin’s Windrush story first-hand.
The Windrush Celebration project features five large interpretation panels which are now installed around the African Caribbean Centre, in Maidstone Road, Highfields. The aim is to encourage people to find out more about the important contribution of the Windrush generation to Leicester’s modern-day communities.
Each panel has a theme – Trailblazing Elders, Community Movements, Education and Young People, Celebrations and Leicester Pioneers. The themes were chosen by Leicester’s Black community at workshops that took place over the summer.
The exhibition has been opened to coincide with Black History Month. It is the final stage in a comprehensive package of cultural events and educational resources that has been created by Leicester City Council, in partnership with Opal22 Arts and Edutainment, and the local community, as part of a £10,000 Government-funded project to tell the story of the people who came to the UK from the Caribbean in the years after the Second World War.
Named after one of the first such passenger ships – the Empire Windrush – the story forms a vital part of the history of the nation, its diversity and its communities.
City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “We’re incredibly lucky in Leicester – people from all over the world have chosen to settle here, and each community has strengthened the city we all call home.
“This fantastic project will be a permanent reminder of the significant contributions of our Black community, helping to educate future generations. I was delighted to be invited to help launch it.”
Assistant city mayor for diversity and tackling racism, Cllr Sue Hunter, said: “This exhibition recognises the central role the Windrush generation has played in shaping Leicester’s cultural identity, just as it has in other cities across the UK.
“It brings history to life, and importantly it’s been shaped by the community it is representing, using materials which have been gathered by local people over many years. The project has been delivered through community engagement and partnership working with original Windrush generation migrants and their descendants.”
The Windrush panels are free to view and are available to see whenever the centre is open – no booking is required; just drop in.
Information from the project is also to be featured on the Story of Leicester website and social media, while a new heritage interpretation panel outside the African Caribbean Centre tells the story of the centre itself, from its creation in the 1980s.
In line with a national campaign to ensure Black history is more prominent in the national curriculum, resource packs have been developed by the city council’s library service for use with schools, containing Windrush-themed books and activities and a series of storytelling sessions based on the collection.
Leicester City Council’s festivals and events and Neighbourhood Services teams successfully bid for the funding for the exhibition and programme of Windrush events.
The city’s Windrush work is among 42 projects across the UK to benefit from a share of £500,000 awarded to community groups, charities and councils.
Picture shows (l-r) Marcia Brown, Leicester City Council Neighbourhood Services, Cllr Sue Hunter, asst city mayor for diversity & tackling racism; Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE; city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby at the African Caribbean Centre for the opening of the Windrush community project.