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Home school competition celebrates black British history

Mattha Busby and Sarah Marsh
Home school competition celebrates black British history

Children and young people have been asked to create unique projects to explore black British history. The competition, sponsored by the National Education Union (NEU), is part of the 100 Great Black Britons campaign created by Patrick Vernon to celebrate the continued legacy and achievements of black people in Britain. The most innovative of the “home-school” challenge entries will be featured on the website in October for Black History Month.

Kevin Courtney, the NEU’s joint general secretary, said: “The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the centrality of black people in Britain to the NHS and care work, transport systems, food supplies, utilities, research, education and so much more.

“The NEU supports this competition to celebrate what we have always known: that Britain’s history is irrefutably rooted in black and global history and that our members do a fantastic job in teaching this.”

Arike Oke, the managing director of Black Cultural Archives, said black history in Britain “goes as far back as it’s possible to go”.

“Children growing up in modern Britain should know their true history, and whether they are black, brown or white, black history is part our of national story,” she said.

“The resources on the 100 Great Black Britons site can be used by families, parents, guardians and carers to help children understand themselves and their wider history.”

Lavinya Stennett, the founder of The Black Curriculum, said: “Black history is vital for every young person’s development and understanding of their identity and the world around them. To become fully rounded people, it is important that all young people are given meaningful access to a full version of history.”

The competition comes before Windrush Day on 22 June. The organisers said teachers and parents schooling at home due to the lockdown could use the resources on its website to help young people learn more about the impact people of African descent have had on British history.

 “Teaching about our history, equality and diversity to promote a fully inclusive atmosphere in schools should be embedded into daily life in schools,” said secondary school teacher and equalities campaigner Niparun Nessa.

“The goal is always to celebrate festivals and events such as Black History Month to highlight and embrace our community and not to make up for what is often forgotten and overlooked.”

There is also a teacher’s competition to develop resources to be used as part of a permanent online library celebrating black history.

The 100 Great Black Britons was created in 2003 in response to the BBC’s 100 Greatest Britons television series the year before, when no one of African descent was represented. The campaign has sought to tackle the invisibility of black people’s achievements and contributions in the UK.

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Post-scriptum: 
The competition has been launched shortly before Windrush Day on 22 June. Photograph: Contraband Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

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