Windrush Day is an annual celebration that commemorates the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush in 1948, marking the beginning of post-war immigration from the Caribbean. The day has cultural significance as it honours the contributions and sacrifices made by the Windrush generation, who helped to rebuild and shape modern-day Britain.
To mark this significant moment in British history, Amazon employees from our Black Employee Network (BEN) hosted events at our London office and fulfilment centre in Tilbury, Essex, which is based on Windrush Road and close to where the Empire Windrush ship docked 75 years ago.
Here are some of the ways we marked the day.
The Importance of the Windrush Generation panel
BEN hosted a panel discussion on the importance of the Windrush Generation live from our Tilbury fulfilment centre. This panel discussion was hosted by members of the BEN network to shed light on the history of Windrush and how it has shaped diversity and inclusion for future generations.
We caught up with some of the panellists who explained why conversations like this are still so important today.
Alexander Gayle, Area Manager at the Tilbury fulfilment centre said: “I feel it’s important that businesses mark days like Windrush day - not only for those from Afro-Caribbean descent, but for all groups as it creates a more harmonious working environment. It helps all employees feel more seen and valued by the company.
“I am proud to be a descendant of Windrush, from what I have heard from my family, that generation worked very hard to be seen and have equal rights. I do feel that there is still work to be done, and feel a responsibility to be a role model to younger generations as someone in a leadership position.”
Imaan Williams, Shift Manager at the Dartford delivery station, added, “It is important to have these conversations because it shows employees from different backgrounds that they are being seen, included and their history is celebrated. The Windrush story is one that, until very recently, was not widely known so having BEN and this platform helps us to share knowledge and empower those from this background.”
Ramona Williams President of BEN UK Ops shared, “It is important to have these open discussions across the business about the challenges that face the Black community. I am proud that our teams are able to have candid discussions and share their personal and professional experiences to support others across the company.”
A Talk with Professor David Olusoga OBE
At our London office, we hosted an event with British-Nigerian historian, author, presenter and BAFTA winning film-maker, Professor David Olusoga OBE. The event covered the lost aspects of the Windrush story and unpacks the consequences, in our own time, of our habit of “historical amnesia”.
Reflecting on the talk, and his own personal connection to Windrush Day, Nat Brooks, Employee Engagement Lead for BEN UK said:
“David addressed significant issues concerning the consequences of historical amnesia in the UK. As an organization, it is crucial that we commemorate and reflect upon the legacy of those who came before us.
“In the early 1950s, my great-grandfather embarked on his second journey from Jamaica to his "motherland”, having previously served in World War II for the British Empire. Without him taking that pivotal first step, I would not where I am today.”
Hosted the UNDEREXPOSED ARTS (UA) exhibition at our Tilbury site
The (UA) exhibition showcases a collection of portraits, highlighting successful Black Britons from different walks of life, from sport and art to law and activism. The striking portraits evoke a strong sense of identity, pride and aspiration for our Black employees, helping them to feel seen in the workplace. Our Tilbury site will continue to host the exhibition for the rest of June, before moving to another operational site for July.
Rebecca Wijeyesinghe, Programme Manager and BEN UK Corporate board member, who organised the exhibition said, "I am thrilled that LCY2, our fulfilment centre in Tilbury, is the first operational site to host the UNDEREXPOSED ARTS (UA) exhibition. As a first-generation Brit, observing Windrush Day as an organisation means a lot to me. It recognises the contributions of those before me who laid the foundations for the vibrant, multi-cultural Britain we know today.”
She adds “It’s important, however, that we also understand the struggles of the Windrush generation. The talk delivered by David Olusoga OBE was a real eye opener for me. I’m grateful that Amazon grants us the space to have these important conversations."
Find out more about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon.