A crowd gathered in Dorchester town centre to join a band of unions and political parties in an anti-racism march.

Unison and the Green Party were among a handful of others who joined to celebrate what the chairman of Unison, Berny Parkes described as a ‘celebration of culture’ for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Supporting unions and their members brought banners and chanted through Dorchester high street as part of a peaceful protest to be sure their message was heard until they reached the war memorial where the march terminated.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stems from the Sharpeville massacres on March 21, 1960 in South Africa, in which 69 unarmed protesters were shot by 300 police officers who were integrated by all white people at a peaceful protest for their human rights. 180 others were seriously injured in the same protest.

The message of anti-racism is one that on the day was being rolled out across Europe, with similar protests and marches happening across the world.

Paul Kimber, Labour leader for Dorset County Council said: “It’s here for us to show we support all these people who are rightfully very concerned about racism, not only nationally but also in Dorset.”

Tim Nicholls, the secretary for Unison in the South West said to marchers: “You are not alone. This is part of a national demonstration across Europe standing up to racism.”

He compared Britain’s economic state to other countries in the EU who are more affluent. On the subject of Britain’s cultural diversity and the political debate over Britain’s migrant population, he said: “People don’t come here to starve, they come here to work.”

Green party Parliamentary candidate for West Dorset, Peter Barton, hit out against political party UKIP and a range of remarks that have been made by party leader Nigel Farage about migrant workers in Britain ahead of the next general election.

He said racism was still a problem in society, especially with politicians making remarks in the public eye about migrant workers and those of an ethnic minority.

Berny Parkes said that this peaceful protest was the first for them, but would not be the last either.

The late Nelson Mandela had previously paid tribute to the day saying that March 21 was a day to remember and sing the praises of those who have perished in the name of democracy and human dignity.