Blog Archive

Wednesday 9 January 2013


Open letter to Rt Michael Gove MP

Dear Rt Michael Gove MP
Remember that glorious summer evening when Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all won Olympic gold medals? It encapsulated multicultural Britain at its very best.
Given the nation's collective celebration which included who we are and what we achieved, it is deeply disappointing that you as the Secretary of State for Education, are considering removing two great Black  Britons - Mary Seacole and Olaudah Equiano - from the schools curriculum.
You have said, Mr Gove, that you want our children to focus on ‘traditional' figures such as Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell. Seacole and Equiano should also be seen in the rich, often traumatic history of Britain as traditional figures: brave, courageous and inspiring.
After all, 80,000 people - the capacity of our Olympic stadium - came out to pay tribute to the extraordinary Seacole on her return from the Crimean War. As for Equiano, there is no doubt that the abolition of slavery would have endured many more years without his passionate Christian narrative which, at the time, shook the establishment to the core.
Today in our schools, children from all backgrounds learn about, and are moved by, the stories of both individuals. It is not political correctness to keep them in, but it is historically and culturally incorrect to remove them from our rich tapestry of history, including the struggle for women's rights.
Even in the 1850s the famed Times reporter Sir W. H Russell said of Mary Seacole: "Let England not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.”
That is why thousands of people signed an online petition calling for Seacole not to be removed from the national curriculum. Seacole and Equiano are part of all our histories.
For the benefit of all our children now and in the future, we call upon you Mr Gove to rethink your plans to remove these two great Black Britons from the National Curriculum.

Rev Jesse Jackson Snr
Zadie Smith, Author
Andrea Levy, Author
Pauline Melville, Author
Malorie Blackman, Author
Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, Playwright
Dr Rob Berkley, Head of Runnymede
Prof Gus John, Educationalist
Greg Jenner, Horrible Histories
Verna Wilkins, Author
Diane Abbott MP
David Lammy MP
Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Education Secretary
Michael Rosen, Writer and Broadcaster
Paul Reid, Head of Black Cultural Archives
Steve Martin, Historian
Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of Association of Lecturers and Teachers
Lord Herman Ouseley
Lord Victor Adebowale CBE
Baroness Lola Young
Bonnie Greer OBE
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT
Lord Herman Ouseley
Garth Crooks, Former Spurs international
Dr Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, University of Leicester
Professor Julia O'Connell Davidson, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham
Gloria Mills CBE, Unison
John McDonnell MP
Baroness Kishwer Falkner
Bonnie Greer OBE
Kate Green MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Margaret Busby OBE, Publisher
Simon Woolley, Operation Black Vote
Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of 100 Great Black Britons
Prof Elizabeth Anionwu CBE & FRCN
Alex Pascal
Zita Holbourne, National Co-chair BARAC UK & PCS NEC
Khi Rafe, Community Advocate
Lester Holloway, Lib Dem Race Equality Taskforce
Pav Akhtar, Director UK Black Pride
Amarjite Singh – CWU
Kingsley Abrams, Unite
Sally Hunt, General Secretary UCU
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS
Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of ATL
Lee Jasper, National Co-Chair BARAC UK
George Ruddock, CEO The Voice
Aaron Kieley, NUS Black Students Officer
Jak Beula, Nubian Jak
Maggie Gee, OBE FRSL
George Galloway MP
Freddie Brown, Prospect
Mohammad Taj, Unite
Colette Corkhurst, Equality Officer Unite
Michelle Codrington-Rogers, NASUWT BME Committee
Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, UCU
Caryl Phillips, Author
Verna Wilkins, Children's Author
Jeannette Arnold OBE AM
Baroness Lola Young OBE
Alex Pascall OBE
Luke Daniels, Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Roger McKenzie OBE, UNISON
Aminatta Forna, Author
Stephen Bourne, Author and Historian
Tony Warner, Black Historical Walks

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