Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

'Black history in schools' mum takes petition to the top

2015-10-23 21:49:51

Stephanie PitterTOGETHER WE CAN: Stephanie Pitter and supporters outside the Department of Education

From the streets of Birmingham to the heart of British Government, crusading mum Stephanie Pitter is taking her quest to have black history on every school curriculum in the land right to the top.

Dubbed Birmingham’s own ‘warrior queen,’ Pitter, armed with her 50,000-name petition, was invited the Department of Education in Whitehall yesterday (October 22).

She spent more than an hour with the department’s head of history Paul Adams who pledged to tackle racism issues in schools and asked her to contribute to an online Black history resource used by teachers.

As she emerged smiling from her meeting, the mother-of-four said: “It’s time our children learned about how Black history is relevant to them today – how Britain’s great wealth was created on the back of the sugar trade in the Caribbean and how Africans were brutally forced from their homeland.

“We are the generation to change this – to pave the way for our children to understand their past once and for all. Change must come.”

It’s been a long journey for the determined mother, who launched her own petition after her two older children would tell her they had been called racist names at school.

“Ignorance breeds racism, so I thought the only way to change this is to educate the next generation,” she added. “I remember I started with one lady I met on the bus. I told her I was starting a petition and she said: ‘Give me a pen.’”

Since 2012, Pitter has worn out the soles of her shoes walking around events across the West Midlands asking people to sign up.

Earlier this month, she was a keynote speaker at the launch of Black History South in Southampton.

Her words impressed them so much that two of the group’s leading lights – Lou Taylor and Helen Jackson – were among supporters cheering her on at the Department of Education.

They said: “We had to come and support Stephanie. She’s an inspirational speaker. It’s a whole issue of identity for our children. They need to be taught their own history in order to stand their ground in life.”

Veteran civil rights campaigner Maxie Hayles, who travelled from Birmingham to support Stephanie, said: “I call her our warrior queen because she is so determined. If our children don’t know where they have come from, they cannot move forward.

“They need to know about their history prior to 400 years of enslavement – about the rulers of Africa. History should not be all about 1066 and the Wars of the Roses.”

And he was critical of Prime Minister David Cameron’s message to ‘move on’ from slavery reparations when he recently visited Jamaica.

Interestingly, according to the wall of faces who run the Department of Education team, led by Minister Nicky Morgan, there is only one Black member – Conservative MP for East Surrey Sam Gyimah, who is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education.

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