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Mural of Medway racial equality activist Asquith Xavier unveiled in Hare Street near Luton Road, Chatham

A mural has been unveiled of a man who fought for racial equality in the workplace.

A picture of Asquith Xavier has been painted on a building wall in Hare Street, Chatham, 300 metres from the campaigner’s former home.

Camealia and her daughter in front of the mural of her grandfather in Chatham. Picture courtesy of Arches Local
Camealia and her daughter in front of the mural of her grandfather in Chatham. Picture courtesy of Arches Local

The installation, organised by Arches Local, was painted by street artist Voyder. Work began on it this week and was completed yesterday.

Last year the not-for-profit commissioned a painting of a large radioactive cabbage to represent Luton’s historic role as an agricultural area.

A spokesperson for the Arches Local Partnership said: “We’re pleased to deliver our second mural, this time depicting Asquith Xavier, who lived on Grove Road.

“Through murals, we aim to celebrate the hidden stories of this corner of Chatham.”

Asquith Xavier moved to England in 1958 from Dominica as part of the Windrush generation – a group of Caribbean migrants who came to help rebuild a post-war Britain.

And, in 1966, he gained recognition when he applied to become a guard at Euston station but was turned down as only white people could be employed for the role.

Asquith fought for his right to hold the position and his refusal to back down led to the amendment of the 1968 Race Relations Act.

The painting began this week and finished on Wednesday. Picture courtesy of Arches Local
The painting began this week and finished on Wednesday. Picture courtesy of Arches Local

On July 15, 1966, it was announced that London Stations would abandon its racist policy and Asquith was offered the job.

In 2020, a plaque commemorating the social campaigner’s historical achievements was placed at Chatham station.

His granddaughter Camelia Xavier-Chihota continues his legacy. She is the chairwoman of Medway Culture Club – an organisation that champions equality, diversity and inclusion in the Towns.

She said: “It’s heartwarming to see this mural just a stones throw from where I grew up, on an unassuming wall that I walked past daily as a child, on my way to and from school.

“Seeing my grandfather’s journey to justice depicted so creatively will hopefully raise local awareness of his advancements in gaining equal opportunities for minority communities in Britain.

“I hope this story of an ordinary man who achieved extraordinary things will inspire others to challenge the status quo and stereotypes.

“The artist, Voyder, has perfectly captured his bravery, dignity and strength of character, incorporating key landmarks in his life including the hills of Dominica, Euston Station and Luton Arches.

The mural of Asquith Xavier in Chatham. Picture courtesy of Arches Local
The mural of Asquith Xavier in Chatham. Picture courtesy of Arches Local

“My grandfather’s contribution to our society has undoubtedly shaped the way we live today and I’m proud to see it being celebrated and immortalised so that his achievements are not forgotten or lost in time.

“Thank you to Arches Local for commissioning this work of art.”

Medway Council Leader Vince Maple added: “This fantastic mural in the heart of Luton is a tremendous tribute to a true hero of Medway Asquith Xavier.

“I want to congratulate the brilliant Arches Local team, the Xavier family and the artist Voyder for bringing this piece of public art forward.

“Alongside the plaque at Chatham Railway Station, this recognition for Asquith who played a pivotal role in changing the law on race relations in the workplace is another example of what makes me proud to be Medway.”

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