22 June 2021 marks the fourth national Windrush Day and 73 years since the SS Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex carrying the first Caribbean migrants to the UK to help re-build Britain after the Second World War.
Today we celebrate a local hidden hero, Asquith Xavier, who overturned British Railways ‘whites-only’ recruitment policy.
Xavier moved from Dominica, as part of the Windrush generation after the Second World War and settled in Chatham.
In 1966, he was working as a guard at Marylebone Station where he applied for a promotion at Euston Station but received a rejection letter from management. This was because the station was operating a ‘whites-only’ recruitment policy. Mr Xavier demanded change and his story made its way to Parliament, and the then Secretary of State for Transport, Barbara Castle.
On 15 July 1966 British Railways announced this recruitment policy was scrapped and in August 1966 Mr Xavier was allowed to start work at Euston.
Mr Xavier, died in 1980, and you can see a plaque dedicated to him in the waiting room at Chatham railway station.
If you know a local hero or heroine that deserves recognition please nominate them for Medway African and Caribbean Association’s (MACA) 16th Young Back Achievers Award 2021. MACA Diversity Awards or Young People United awards
Or if you would like to learn more about your local black history please have a look at MACA’s online learning resource.