How did it go?

In one word: perfectly. It was everything I’d hoped for and more. The crowd was amazing, the speakers and performers kept the spirit alive and the food complemented our aim to make it a cultural day. Thank you to all those who came, showed your support and donated to help pay for the wonderful day. There are so many people to thank that I wouldn’t know where to begin. The main people I would like to thank are all those I worked with to organise the event. I did nothing in comparison to what Marvina, Sharon and Gabriella did – you guys put in so much time and money into making the day so great and we pulled it off (we actually effing did it).

If you want to see posts, videos and pictures from the day, please look at the Facebook page and the Twitter account. We are already beginning to get coverage from the event, with many of us being interviewed by various bloggers and news channels before and during the day- I can’t wait for them to be published and to see what everyone has to say about the event. And of course you can read more about the plans for the day on here.

Highlights from 20th February:

img_tduuldMonday started early (considering one of the aims was to give people a lie-in) for all of those involved behind the scenes. Setting up the stage and early morning leafleting between 8-10 am, trying to encourage workers to come for lunch. If any of you look at the Facebook post, you will know that we did experience a little backlash to celebrating cultural diversity and standing for migrant rights. For me, it was only two people and most people were really welcoming to the idea, and even those who couldn’t come thanked us for hosting such an event.

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Throughout the day, whilst there were speakers and performances on the stage, we had fun activities for all ages. We loved seeing the little kids get involved, even though they didn’t understand what they were painting for, it was so heartwarming to see children from different backgrounds coming together to paint the giant canvases (I only got a photo of this little one, but as kids saw the paint, more joined in.  My poor friend Lauren was covered in paint by the end.

img_k0g0hiChildren also took part in the Leeds International Women’s Filmmaking Collective to help create a ‘Zine‘ and created artwork about the importance of migration.

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We had incredibly moving poetry from Julia. If you would like to listen to more of her passionate poetry, please look at her Facebook page. Honestly, I shed a tear when I heard Julia’s poetry, it was just so heartfelt. Thank you, Julia for your powerful performance!

One of the best parts of the day was watching people experience other cultures they’d
otherwise not get a chance to experience. Here are Sabrina
(who spoke on stage with such eloquence) and a dual-European-national child trying on part of a costume from the West Indian Carnival:

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It was also important to us to have representatives from the img_nppnvjmigrant/refugee agency Manuel Bravo Project to give information regarding legal rights, and they very kindly brought along lawyers working for free to give out legal advice for any who felt they needed it.

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Likewise, whilst we wanted to celebrate our cultural diversities and have a good time, there is a reason we were doing this. There has been a very sharp rise in racism since the ‘Brexit’ referendum. EU migrants are not sure what their situation and rights are in the UK once we leave the EU. We decided to have books in which people could write their experiences of hate, why they felt it important everyone takes part in ‘One Day Without Us Leeds’ and what they’d enjoyed about the day.

img_7ib19hLater in the evening, the much anticipated march took place. We had hundreds of leaflets left over which people took to give to passers-by. Many did this so effectively that, when I tried to do this with friends at the back, onlookers already had leaflets and knew why we were marching. Thank you to whoever was promoting our cause in this way!

We had the wonderful Jenna take to the stage and talk about racism. She was so nervous on stage but she stayed all day and carried around a placard which read “I’m 9 years old and scared for my future.” Incredible to see her standing for her rights at such a young age but also a strong reminder of why we have to do this.

Of course, we were able to provide the free food promised, thanks to the wonderful discounted food we received from Kingz Restaurant and Old Granary Pierogi. This was possibly my favourite part of the day. Not only did people get to enjoy Polish and Caribbean food but we noticed a few homeless people were coming to the stall, too. For us, to host an event to bring the community together was one thing, but to be able to give warm food to people who don’t normally get that, made it that extra bit more special.

‘One Day Without Us Leeds’ was a day to bring everyone together, regardless of background, language, culture, and that’s what we did. It was incredible and everyone made the day so successful. Thank you to everyone who came and stood against racism and for human rights!

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