The August bank holiday weekend is iconic as the weekend of Notting Hill Carnival when millions descend on Kensington to celebrate Caribbean culture, dance and have fun; but itâ€™s also a tradition deeply rooted in political origins.
Carnival was a radical and novel response to racial tensions that had been growing across London, and indeed across the country as illustrated by the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott and Nottingham race riots.
At this moment London was becoming a thriving multicultural hub caused by an influx of post-war economic migration. These were the â€˜Windrushâ€™ generation â€“ new to the country and culture looking to find jobs, stability and a home. Government records show appeals for NHS nurses from commonwealth countries to help support the growing population. However many black people had been livingÂ in London before this time (as can be seen in a previous blog post on black British civil rights covering the 30s and 40s). While the colour bar (a social system in which black people were denied the same rights as white people) was never enforced in Britain, racial discrimination was often a reality at this time.
The same notorious August bank holiday weekend in 1958 had seen the Notting Hill race riots, five nights of riots instigated by a white mob, in which 108 people were ultimately arrested. Continue reading »