Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

History - Honour Black Britons: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

History - Honour Black Britons: Resources

Article excerpt

The stories of these home-grown heroes should be taught all year.

Most people would consider it a good thing that we have Black History Month, which takes place in October every year. And as an author and historian who specialises in the subject, I am delighted to visit schools and museums to enlighten people about our home-grown heroes. But I would argue that it is preferable for black history events to be held throughout the year, providing a greater understanding of black Britons and the contributions they have made to British society since the 1500s.

My own inspiration has been Esther Bruce, my adopted aunt - a black Londoner born before the First World War, who died in 1994 aged 81. I co- authored a biography of her, Aunt Esther's Story, in 1991. It was the first book to document the life of a black working-class woman in Britain.

Mainstream publishers have been reluctant to publish books about Britain's black communities. It took me eight years to find a publisher for Mother Country, a book about black Britons on the home front during the Second World War. Two years later, in 2012, the History Press published The Motherland Calls: Britain's black servicemen and women, 1939-45 and it has just commissioned a third title from me about Britain's black community during the First World War.

So perhaps the climate is finally changing. But I am concerned that schools and teachers are not aware of a broader range of British black role models - and teaching resources - that go beyond the familiar stories about Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole (the subject of recent curriculum controversy) and First World War army officer Walter Tull. …

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