A woman of many talents, award winning descendant of the first Windrush pioneers, Joyce Fraser is the founder of the charity Black Heroes Foundation. Here she speaks frankly to Joy Sigaud about some of her personal experiences as a child of the Windrush Generation and the making of the acclaimed film, The Story of Sam King MBE.
Mr King was the founder of the Windrush Foundation and the first Black Mayor of Southwark. Joyce Fraser has also written a play about Claudia Jones, founder of a precursor event to the great Notting Hill Carnival, although she wasn’t associated with that, giving us insight into her life and background. Both Sam King and Claudia Jones worked together from the early 1960s promoting the interests of the Windrush generation and their rights in the United Kingdom.
Their lives reflect so many of the Windrush Generation and their descendants who came to Britain, fought the good fight and continue to do so today.
J.S. What does Windrush mean to you?
J.F. Windrush is very personal to me. My parents are from Jamaica. My Mother came to England in the 1950’s on a British passport to train as a nurse and fully expected to return to Jamaica after her training. However she met my father, they got married, and the rest is history! The next time she saw Jamaica was some 20 years later. She returned with 2 passports a Jamaican one, a British one, and didn’t recognise the country, so much had changed, she felt like a foreigner.
I am a child of the Windrush generation and very much identify with my Jamaican heritage and love the rich culture that I grew up in. I have a warm fuzzy lovely feeling when I remember the family get-togethers and weddings of my childhood, the music, food, dancing, chitter chatter, dressing up, proud story telling etc etc. That’s what Windrush meant to me. However, I do also remember the adults talking, my parents warning people to get their British passports because evil is afoot. I didn’t really understand it. Well, now I do, well not really. How can people who arrived as British Citizens have their doors banged down, be arrested in the dark of on night, treated like prisoners and then be deported with £1,000 money to set themselves up in a country they have no knowledge of. Incompressible. Frightening. Terrifying. Barbaric. I now know why the organisation I have worked for for 10 years insisted on seeing my passport and birth certificates last year. It could have been me. Just like that loosing my world if I couldn’t find my documents, and they did chase me over a period of a few months. I didn’t understand the importance of it. Windrush no longer means that warm fuzzy feeling. It’s a deep overwhelming feeling of anger, injustice, frustration and deep sorrow. Sorrow to know that a modern day government, in a so called democratic country can be so strategic, heartless and cruel in its planning and ruthless implementation. No action to address the injustices what so ever. That’s what Windrush means to me.
J.S. What do you believe the legacy of the film The Story of Sam King will be?
J.F. The film “The Story of Sam King” is an important record of an important person. It is one small step in filling in the gaps and misrepresentation of Black history in Britain. It starts to tell the story of the Windrush generation.
It provides knowledge, inspiration and celebration of a Black Hero for our children to learn their history, and for our elders to be recognised and acknowledged.
J.S. What lasting impact do you hope Black Heroes Foundation will achieve for Windrush 2020?
J.F. The Black Heroes Foundation has a vision of a world where Black Heroes are acknowledged, respected and celebrated. For Windrush 2020 we are providing the stories of two heroes who have had a lasting impact on the Windrush Generation. Both of these were part of Wandsworth’s Arts Fringe Festival – In Your Living Room last month, and are appearing in Camberwell Arts Festival, The A-Z of Camberwell this month.
Film – The Story of Sam King https://youtu.be/uUGe200Iu-8
Play – The Story of Claudia Jones https://youtu.be/_o6oJmQI4H0
Both Sam King and Claudia Jones worked together on fighting the notorious 1962 Immigration Act, the legal foundation for today’s Windrush Scandal.
If you would like to know more about the work of the foundation, get involved or provide support to the charity please visit their website and donation page at: https://www.blackheroesfoundation.org/