History - In honour of black Britons

1st February 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

Most people consider Black History Month a good thing, but I believe it should be taught throughout the year, providing a greater understanding of black Britons and their contribution to British society since the 1500s, writes Stephen Bourne.

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

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. In 2012, the History Press published The Motherland Calls: Britain's black servicemen and women, 1939-45.

Why should only African Americans be held up as role models? Surely the time has come for the lives of black Britons such as Mary Prince, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Learie Constantine and Una Marson to be taught in our schools.

Why is the concept of a black British civil rights movement so difficult to comprehend? Dr Harold Moody, founder of the League of Coloured Peoples in 1931, has been described as Britain's Dr Martin Luther King. And the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 - when the Bristol Omnibus Company refused to employ black or Asian bus crews - has more relevance to our youth than the story of Rosa Parks.

What else?

Learn about celebrated black scientists with a "Who am I?" puzzle shared by vnspence. bit.lytesBlackScientists

Teach pupils about black history, the fight for civil rights, immigration into the UK and apartheid South Africa, with BBC Learning Zone Class Clips. bit.lytesBlackHistoryVideo.

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