By Leah Conway –
Each year Windrush Day is commemorated across the country, it is a chance for people to remember and to learn. This year, KLTV is bringing the focus closer to home. Instead of focusing on the national headlines of Windrush, we listen to local voices and local stories from people in Huddersfield’s African Diaspora.
Kirklees has a rich and diverse history, many from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada, Carriacou and St Lucia and more settled in Huddersfield in the 1940s.
By 1962, approximately 115,000 people from the Caribbean have arrived in Britain since 1948. People from the African Diaspora settled and made roots in towns like Huddersfield all over the UK but there were many obstacles and challenges to overcome.
In 1963, when referring to local school Spring Grove, Edward Boyle, Minister for Education, tells the House of Commons, ‘I must regretfully tell the House that one school must be regarded now as irretrievably an immigrant school, the important thing to do is to prevent this happening elsewhere.’
He added that, ‘no one school should have more than 30% immigrants and that immigrant families should be forced to send their children to other schools if the nearest had reached this number.’
African Diaspora: Memories of Huddersfield
Pat Jordan, a sixties youth, reflects on the Rastafarian movement and sound Systems in Huddersfield, she recalled, “The Rastafarian movement in the 70s and 80s was very big in Huddersfield, it was a very close-knit community, the spirit of unity was alive, the togetherness was there.”
She continued, “In the 70s and 80s Rastafarianism movement and Sound culture that was the hub of a cultural message, an inspirational message to the community, in a sense, regardless of colour because the music is for everybody and it brought people together; the youth clubs, 70s, 80s they had plenty of youth clubs in Huddersfield plenty of youth centres, plenty of sound systems. And everybody supported everybody and then something happened, which brought … a division, a silent division…”
Sister B recalled a conflict with her neighbour who called verbally abused her children, Sister B continued, “For instance, she [came] to my fence, she had her bin and instead of keeping her bin, she threw it over my garden. And I was up in my bedroom and I stand and I saw her do it… I go downstairs and open the door and go to the fence and said, ‘What did you throw this muck in my garden for?’ She said, ‘I didn’t.’ I said, ‘Yes you did I saw you.’ … and I threw it back over her fence twice just like how she threw it twice…”
Roy “Power” Noel, born in Carriacou came to England in 1955 and arrived in Huddersfield in 1957. Roy Noel was a key figure in Huddersfield’s Black Power movement, he recalls, “When I came here, I was subject and citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies you know … and I cannot understand why we wasn’t allowed to live as an English man.. [we] couldn’t get a house, in fact, I made a lot of noise about that, and got people marching and going on because we couldn’t get a council house. So, I went into the council… to say we’re entitled to a house and so I bring a crowd with me and everyone start[ed] to shake and after that, they moved everyone up to Sheepbridge…”
Tommy, born in Carriacou arrived in Huddersfield in 1960, “We could go in pubs, some pubs we went in in Huddersfield and they wouldn’t serve us, they said we don’t serve no black in here.
“I remember a time when the Teddy boys were big, you know, in Huddersfield. When I got to Halifax…we used to go to the dance hall before we get in our girlfriends in the hall waiting for us to get in and when we get to the door they say the place is full, they can’t have us in. While we’re standing there they let in all the white guys … so, therefore, we had to have a fight … just to get your rights, it used to be very very difficult for us as blacks in Huddersfield.”
Meandering highways and rocky byways
Milton Brown CEO of KLTV and Director of Windrush: The Years After commented, “I’m so proud of my elders and my peers because in spite of serious difficulties – and they are well documented – we’re still here rocking and rolling and moving on. As Martin Luther King said, ‘We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways…there are still some difficult days ahead. … But if we will go on with the faith that nonviolence and its power can transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows, we will be able to change all of these conditions.’
“I would hope that many people within the African Diaspora can celebrate how far we’ve come and hope that inspires us to keep moving forward. I truly believe we are not victims of racism and discrimination, instead, we are survivors and shine the light on humanity.”
Keep an eye out, in 2022, KLTV will be back on the road with more public showings of Windrush: The Years After.
Windrush: The Years After Official Trailer: