Letter from Vincent Reid to Andrew Salkey discussing the Black Power Movement in the UK, 21 August 1968

Description

At the age of 13, and accompanied by his adoptive parents, Vincent Reid was the youngest migrant on board the Empire Windrush in 1948. He went on to become a senior lecturer and pioneering teacher of Caribbean and African history at Brixton College of Further Education in spite of having left school early ‘feeling angry and ashamed’ at the racism he faced from British teachers.

In this letter to Andrew Salkey in 1968 he expresses concerns about Black Power, the British Black nationalist movement led by Michael Abdul Malik (aka Michael X). He warns:

We are all revolutionaries, we all feel the need to strike a blow in the pursuit of our freedom, but this does not mean we must lose our reason, and this I feel we are in danger of doing if we adopt in this country the methods of revolution now being used in America and Africa.

Fearing that this will end in violence and reprisals, Reid advocates for Black people to unite to build a stronger Africa instead. This was a core aim of Afrocentric movements that developed in the early 1960s. Towards the end of the letter Reid writes:

In short [we should] inculcate the pioneer spirit in all our people towards helping to build a new and dynamic Africa; because when Africa is free so will we be; when Africa sits in the decision making forums of the world, and makes her pressence [sic] and opinions felt, then we shall have POWER.

‘Windrush Child’

In 1998, to mark 50 years since Windrush docked in London, Afro-Guyanese poet John Agard wrote ‘Windrush Child’ about Reid leaving Jamaica for Britain.

Full title:
Letter from Vincent Reid (youngest person on board Windrush) to Andrew Salkey about the Black Power Movement in the UK
Created:
21 August 1968
Format:
Letter
Creator:
Vincent Reid
Copyright:
© Vincent Reid
Usage terms

You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
Andrew Salkey Archive Dep 10310, Reid correspondence file

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