College students to learn about post WWII migration for Black History Season

Posted by er134 at Sep 25, 2013 03:32 PM |
University of Leicester expert Dr Margaret Byron to lead session on colonialism and migrant labour on Thursday, 26 September

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 25 September 2013

A University of Leicester expert will talk to college students about the key role played by Caribbean migrants in post WWII Britain for Black History Season.

Dr Margaret Byron, of the University’s Department of Geography, will hold a session on Colonialism, Migration and Contemporary Britain on Thursday, 26 September.

The talk will give 55 year 12 and access students from Leicester College and Loughborough College the chance to explore the themes of colonialism and migrant labour in sectors of the British economy.

Dr Byron will look at several case studies – including the case of nurses in Britain’s National Health Service to illustrate the role of women who migrated from colonies in the Caribbean to work in Britain following the Second World War.

She will show how history repeated itself half a century later as nurses from Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe provide vital services in our contemporary health services.

In addition to lecture material, the session will involve a short interactive group activity inviting participants to consider and reflect upon their relationships with these histories.

The session is one of several events arranged by the University’s School & College Services for Black History Season 2013.

Margaret Byron said: “The motive behind Black History Season has been to confront and change the way in which Black people have been absented from history as it was taught in British schools. The season remains relevant.

“The focus in this talk and workshop is the significant contribution to the British labour force made by post WWll migrants from British colonies in the Caribbean. Awareness of labour history in all its dimensions is fundamental to our interpretation of the present.

“From 1948 men and women left the Caribbean where work was in short supply to seek employment in Britain. Women moved not simply as dependants but as workers in their own right. Many Caribbean women were accepted and indeed recruited as trainee nurses.

“During the post war decades in Britain, the high rates of economic activity maintained by Caribbean women throughout the working life course contrasted with those of all other ethnic groups. They were also the most likely to be full time workers.

“They shared with their male, migrant counterparts a desire for regular, higher wages to fulfil obligations to their kin in the Caribbean and increasingly, in Britain.

“Over time women of Caribbean origin have contributed significantly to changing perceptions and trends of women in the British urban labour market.

“Men were very often employed in the transport sector of London and other cities. The experience of racism in the labour market is illustrated by the recent media attention to the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963.

“Progress is also discussed as through the example of Bill Morris, the first black leader of a British trade union, who was elected General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union in 1992 and served in this role until 2003.

“Black history is a critical element of the chronology of labour struggles in Britain, illustrating well the intersection of race, class and gender.”

The session will be held in Lecture Theatre 5 of the University’s Bennett Building on Thursday, 26 September from 10am to 12 noon.


Notes to Editors:

For more information, please contact Dr Margaret Byron at:

More information about the University’s Black History Season 2013 activities can be found at:

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