June Elizabeth White Smith Gulley was born in the UK to parents of Jamaican Heritage.  She has been a strong advocate of Caribbean descended communities since the 1980s when she first realised that her status as a British citizen could easily have been removed from her with the passing of the 1981 Nationality Act.  She has served as a International Windrush Ambassador, is a core member of the Windrush National Organisation and co-Founder of the Northampton Windrush Generation and Descendants UK.

Interview by Juanita Cox

During the interview I asked June-Elizabeth: ‘When did you realise there was an issue with the citizenship status of Black people in Britain?’  She explained she had attended a meeting in Harrow Road about the New Nationality Bill following an advert she’d seen in the Voice Newspaper (in 1980).  She couldn’t recall all the details of the meeting but had been struck by something the Minister had said – listen to audio clip 1 and then audio clip 2.

One week after the meeting, the Voice paper reported:

‘If you were born here, you no longer have to pay £50.’ While she personally didn’t end up having to taken any action, she notes: It affected me and it’s always stayed with me.’ […]‘I’m not really accepted, they can play with me…[…] [T]hey can play bouncy ball, ping pong with my life.’

From that day in 1980 I realised that elders need help with the paperwork’. 

June-Elizabeth has been an activist ever since and would travel with sound systems across the country, using it as an opportunity to warn people about the changing immigration and citizenship legislation.

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