‘It’s more than four months since One Day Without Us first emerged as a Facebook discussion, and now, somewhat to our own astonishment, February 20 is at hand. When we first formed an ad hoc group to prepare for this event last October, most of us had never met. We all shared the same sense of urgency and common purpose. All of us were galvanised by the alarmingly xenophobic drift of UK politics over the last 12 months. We had had enough of seeing migrants and foreigners – or simply people who looked and sounded foreign – being abused and harassed in our streets and denigrated by politicians.
All of us wanted to do something to counter these developments, and we felt that something bold, dramatic and exceptional was required in these exceptional times. We hoped for a great deal, but none of us knew what would happen when we set out on a political journey that was unlike anything many of us had ever taken.
We were – and we still are – an entirely grassroots campaign. We had – and still have – almost no resources. Despite this, we are now on the brink of something unprecedented and rather special – a national day of action in support of migrants in the UK. We have some 37 regional and local One Day Without Us organisations in towns and cities. More than 100 known events are being planned for next Monday. In the last four months we have received support from migrants organisations, NGOS, trade unions, universities, students and lecturers and even the Tate Gallery. Even now hardly a day passes without new events being added to the list.
Next Monday, on February 20, men and women and young people of all ages across the country will take part in an event that is simultaneously a protest, a celebration, a festival of migration, and a platform for migrants to make their diverse voices heard. It’s also an opportunity for British nationals to stand in solidarity alongside the men, women and children we have known as friends, neighbours, workmates, colleagues and students, and celebrate the fact that they are part of our society. All this is has been achieved almost entirely by volunteers, by migrants and their supporters across the country who have prepared for this campaign. Without them, One Day Without Us would have been nothing more than a passing conversation on social media.
Thanks to their efforts, we now have a chance to bring a new movement into the national conversation and celebrate the contribution that migrants make to communities across the country instead of blaming them for problems they did not cause. This is what so many of us have worked towards these last four months. Now let’s make it happen.
Let’s stand together at 1 o’clock on Monday in the unifying action and show that we will not be divided. Let’s make February 20 not just an end in itself, but a stepping stone towards a better future.
We are millions. Let us stand together and show it.