The courage and fortitude of Luton’s original African Caribbean community is to be recognised next month at a special event at the UK Centre for Carnival Arts.
Members of AHEAD – African/Caribbean History Powers and Develops – have decided to show their appreciation by declaring August 23 as ‘Tribute to our Elders’ day.
Spokeswoman Dee Bailey said: “We – the second, third and fourth generations – owe a huge debt of gratitude to those pioneers who stood full square to assert their dignity as human beings in a strange land.
“We want to acknowledge, with sincere gratitude, the solid foundation laid down by the elders who arrived in the UK immediately after World War Two.”
AHEAD chairman Anthony Jules, who came to Britain from Grenada as a teenager in 1967, said: “We wanted a significant date and August 23 was chosen by UNESCO to mark the abolition of slavery, so it was quite fortuitous.
“There are some individuals in the local community who stand out, women like ‘Aunty Margaret’ Matthews and Verna Ible and Mabel Matthews, who were both awarded the British Empire Medal.
“But there are also lots of unsung heroes, ordinary folk going about their daily lives but overcoming challenges to create a better tomorrow.
“They all made tremendous sacrifices in the face of discriminatory practices to establish a future for their children. This is our way of saying a public thank you.”
The Tribute to our Elders will start at 4pm and continue until 9.30pm with a three course silver service dinner and entertainment by young poets and playwrights.
“The younger generation will perform for them as a tribute,” Mr Jules said.
The elders will be invited to share their memories and personal experiences and to describe how they feel now.
> Tickets cost £20 each from 07593 827813.