By Paula Perry
Recent years have seen vociferous debates over the need for Black British History (BBH) Month. This year, many schools either did not participate or opted to change the focus of their month to diversity instead. When it started in 1987, founder Linda Bellos’ intention was to both celebrate and increase our knowledge of black people’s contribution to British society by dedicating a month to an otherwise overlooked narrative.
We spent some time talking about how we include BBH in our children’s education, and the resources which are available.
Our thinking is that BBH should not be othered and instead be part of everyday teaching in exactly the same way that any other history is taught, but that there is a paucity of resources to do this, particularly the lesser known stories.
So we would like to pull together a useful resource bank of topics and ways that black British history can be taught in schools which anyone could share with their school.
Paula Perry has collated some quick ways to include contemporary BBH and we’ve added some ideas too. These are just starters for ten. We want to crowdsource a brilliant set of ideas. So please send us your ideas for topics, links to articles, books and other resources. We’ll pull them together and create a downloadable pack for you to share.
Ways to introduce Black British History into the classroom:
Walter Tull was promoted to Officer rank during the war despite a ban on black officers and died in battle in 1918. Tull was also one of the first black footballers to play at the highest level in the UK, appearing for Tottenham before moving to Northampton Town, where he is commemorated with a statue.
Many of the men who arrived on Empire Windrush were ex-servicemen of the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The BBFA Collective is a group of Black British Female Artists
Christopher Ofili is a painter. He won the Turner Prize in 1998, his paintings The Holy Virgin Mary of the Black Madonna , and No Women No Cry dedicated to Lady Doreen Lawrence are particularly important. He received a CBE for services to art.
Claudia Jones was a civil rights activist and started the Carnival as an indoor event to ease racial tension. The earliest carnival celebrations in 1959 were entitled Trinidad Comes to Town. The London Carnival is now the second largest in the world.
Director of SOAS Baroness Valerie Ann Amos, is the first black woman to lead a university in the UK.
Miranda Kaufmann’s book, Black Tudors; uncovers a rich array of detail about the daily lives and treatment of ten black Tudors. She reveals how John Blanke came to be the royal trumpeter to Henry VII and Henry VIII: the trouble Jacques Francis got himself into while working as a salvage diver on the wreck of the Mary Rose; what prompted Diego to sail the world with Drake, and she pieces together the stories of a porter, a prince, a sailor, a prostitute and a silk weaver.
E. R. Braithwaite’s To Sir, With Love (1959) won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and adapted the book into a film, starring Sidney Poitier.
Zadie Smith was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002. In a 2004 BBC poll of cultural researchers, Smith was named among the top twenty most influential people in British culture.In 2003 and 2013 she was included on Granta's list of 20 best young authors.Smith has won the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2006 and her novel White Teeth was included in Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.
Malorie Blackman has written both horror and science fiction novels for young people and was the Waterstones Children’s Laureate between 2013 to 2015.
Black British musical culture has influenced the creations of sub-culture such as the Mod subculture, the Skinhead subculture and Punk subculture.
National Health Service
Professor Jacqui Dunkley-Bent led the team that delivered Prince George and Princess Charlotte of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Karlene Davis became the General Secretary of The Royal College of Midwives in 1997.
Ghanaian Lord Riberio became the President of the Royal College of surgeons and is a pioneer of the keyhole surgery.
Daphne Steele became the first Black women to become a matron in St Winifred’s Hospital.
Diane Julie Abbott (born 27 September 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who was appointed Shadow Home Secretary in October 2016. She was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hackney North and Stoke Newington at the 1987 general election, when she became the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons.
Oona King was born in Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, to Preston King, an African-American academic, and his British Jewish wife, Murreil Hazel, a social justice activist. Her paternal grandfather, civil rights activist Clennon Washington King, Sr.Now Baroness King of Bow, she was a Labour Party Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, serving from 1997 until 2005.
Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, OBE is a British Jamaican campaigner and the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager who was murdered in a racist attack in South East London in 1993. She promoted reforms of the police service and founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. She was appointed OBE for ‘services to community relations’ in 2003, and was created a Life Peer in 2013
Dame Heather Victoria Rabbatts, DBE is a Jamaican-born British solicitor, businesswoman, and broadcaster, who rose to prominence as Chief executive of the London Borough of Lambeth, the youngest council chief in the UK. She served as a Football Association director from 2011 to 2017 and was the first non-white person to do so.
Lord Bill Morris was a Trade unionist who represented the interest of workers. He became the General Secretary of the Transport & General Union in 1991 and in 2000, trade union leader in the United Kingdom.
Dame Kelly Holmes, DBE, MBE, born 19 April 1970, is a retired British middle distance athlete. Holmes specialised in the 800 metres and 1500 metres events and won a gold medal for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She set British records in numerous events and still holds the records over the 600, 800, 1000, and 1500 metres distances.
Denise Lewis OBE is a retired English athlete, who specialised in the heptathlon. She won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics you can add what she does now.
Theresa Ione "Tessa" Sanderson, CBE is a former English javelin thrower and heptathlete who competed in the javelin competition in every one of the six Olympics from 1976–1996 winning the gold medal in 1984 for Great Britain.
Carly Cushnie is co-founder and designer of NYC-based label, 'Cushnie et Ochs' and has dressed some of the most influential women of the United States including Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.
Andrew Ramroop became the first black tailor to own a Savile Row store and the founder of Savile Row Academy tailoring school. He has an OBE from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to Bespoke Tailoring and Training.
Ozwald Boateng has the highest public profile of all the Savile Row tailors. He has dressed Hollywood stars and has made Savile Row clothing popular with younger people.