Victory for campaign to keep Black heroes in lessons

Plans by the British government to axe two Black heroes from school history lessons have been halted by campaigners.

It took nearly 36,000 names on a petition and letters to the UK's Secretary of State for education, Michael Gove, from politicians, trade unions, writers and activists to force a change of heart. Now the great exploits of both Mary Seacole, a nurse  during the Crimean War, and slavery abolitionist Olaudah Equiano will continue to be taught in the classroom. 

Thanks to nearly 36,000 signatories and letters to the UK's Secretary of State for education from politicians, trade unions, writers and activist, a government move to axe two key Black figures in British history from school lessons has been thwarted. The great exploits of both Mary Seacole, a nurse  during the Crimean War, and slavery abolitionist Olaudah Equiano will continue to be taught in the classroom. 

In December 2012 a leaked department of education document suggested that Equiano and Seacole be scrapped from the national curriculum.

Campaign leader Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, said:

"This is a great day for education, but also a great day for the Black community and many others who demanded greater racial justice within our education system. There are too many people to thank personally but, The Voice, The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, and Change.org all threw their considerable weight behind this campaign."

Responding to the campaign, Secretary of State Michael Gove wrote personally to OBV and campaigners stating: "We are lucky to be heirs to a very rich mix of exceptional thinkers, bold reformers and courageous political activists. I agree that is important that our children learn about the difference that these figures have made, and it is right that we do more, not less to make subjects relevant to the lives of our children."

Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at Thames Valley University and Vice-Chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, said:

"Thanks to all 36,000 people who signed the Operation Black Vote Petition. Mary Seacole AND Olaudah Equiano & Florence Nightingale are all cited in Key Stage Three of the proposed national curriculum. Brilliant, just brilliant."

In December 2012 a leaked department of education document suggested that Equiano and Seacole be scrapped from the national curriculum.

Campaign leader Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, said: "This is a great day for education, but also a great day for the Black community and many others who demanded greater racial justice within our education system. There are too many people to thank personally but, The Voice, The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The-Latest.Com [whose editor made it the subject of a Birkbeck College, University of London lecture] and Change.org all threw their considerable weight behind this campaign."

In response, Secretary of State Michael Gove wrote personally to OBV and campaigners stating: "We are lucky to be heirs to a very rich mix of exceptional thinkers, bold reformers and courageous political activists. I agree that is important that our children learn about the difference that these figures have made, and it is right that we do more, not less to make subjects relevant to the lives of our children."

Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at Thames Valley University and Vice-Chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, said:

"Thanks to all 36,000 people who signed the Operation Black Vote Petition. Mary Seacole and Olaudah Equiano and Florence Nightingale are all cited in Key Stage Three of the proposed national curriculum. Brilliant, just brilliant."

 

 

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