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Enrico Stennett's Story - 2018 focus


Windrush Day was launched in 2018 to recognise the 70 year anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks carrying men and women from the Caribbean who came with a willingness to work in Britain to help to rebuild their Motherland. These men and women left their homes to find work to support the families they had to leave behind, as the legacy of the colonialization had left the economies of their islands struggling and work difficult to find.

Learning Links International organised an event to recognise Windrush Day in 2018, working with Bangor Council. This was taken by the Welsh Government as the model promoted for other communities the following year. 

Learning Links International was one of the organisations in Wales that asked the Welsh Government to fund the recognistion of Windrush Day, in the same way as the English Government was doing and organisations across Wales recognised Windrush Day in many different ways. 

The focus on recognition of Windrush Day 2018 was to recognise the significant contribution that Enrico Stennett had made to race relations, carrying on when he retired to North Wales. The Windrush Day event, held in Pernrhyn Hall in Bangor, gave recognition of his life and gave an opportunity for Enrico's widow, Mary Stennett, to recall his many achievements.

Enrico Stennett was mixed race and he had experienced racism, prejudice, hostility and rejection in his native Jamaica and in the UK.  This subsequently determined the direction throughout his adult life. He worked consistently within the community, political, trades union and institutional structures to free people from exploitation, suffering and degradation.

Enrico arrived in Britain, in September 1947, age of 21, the year before SS Windrush.  He perceived Britain as a country where he would be liberated from prejudice, but he was troubled by the culture of personal and institutional racism he and others faced on arrival in Britain.  Within months Enrico had become an anti-racist activist and fighter for human and equal rights and justice for all. Enrico joined the League for Coloured People, the Coloured Workers' Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the trade union and Labour Movement and regularly spoke on issues of politics and race at Hyde Park Corner.

In 1950 with his first wife, British born Margaret and friends they founded the Cosmopolitan Social Society, to cater for the welfare/social well-being of Black/Caribbean people living and arriving in the Britain. In 1952 Enrico, along with John Longmore from Sierra Leone and Mubutto from Nigeria, founded the African League. As Chairman of the League, Enrico worked with activists in the liberation struggle for freedom for colonial rule.

Enrico' achievements over 60 years of dedicated and intense activism were prolific. He started the first Black Newspaper "The African Voice" and dedicated his life to challenging racism, inequality and justice. 

Whilst campaigning, Enrico had several jobs, including working in cafe’s and dancehalls and self-employment.  He was a dance partner at the Mecca Ballroom in London and other clubs; a community Race Relations in London, Coventry and Wolverhampton. He retired to Jamaica initially with his second wife Mary but returned when things didn’t work out for them. They settled in North Wales, where they had many happy memories and where Enrico continued to be active in support of the North Wales Race Equality Council until he died.  

Enrico’s was a life-long campaigner for justice for his race, class and all victims of oppression and injustice. Enrico continued campaigning at local, national and international levels right up to his death in 2011. He was never a bitter or angry person, but always a thoughtful, considerate, determined, committed and loving.

Mary Stennett and his many friends felt that Enrico’s commitment and campaigns to change Britain for Black and white should have been recognised during his lifetime.

Enrico was a great man, a true Jamaican hero and ambassador. His talents as a forceful campaigner, activist, friend, father, entrepreneur and husband is prolific and well known. He was a mentor; a solid force that still reminds us of the Jamaican dream that must still be worked for.

Enrico was a great dancer and known as “Mr Magic Feet”. Jamaican music producer, Julian Henrique, made a film of him in that name, which is available through the website that Mary Stennett and the North Wales Jamaica Society made in his memory www.enricostennett.com  

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