Open letter to Rt Michael Gove MP



Dear Rt Michael Gove MP

Remember that glorious summer evening when Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all won Olympic gold medals? It encapsulated multicultural Britain at its very best.

Given the nations collective celebration which included who we are and what we achieved, it is deeply disappointing that you as the Secretary State for Education, is considering removing two Black great Britons - Mary Seacole and Olaudah Equiano - from the schools curriculum.

You have said Mr Gove that you want our children to focus on ‘traditional' figures such as Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell. Seacole and Equiano should also be seen in the rich, often traumatic history of Britain as traditional figures: brave, courageous and inspiring.

After all, 80,000 people - the capacity of our Olympic stadium - came out to pay tribute to the extraordinary Seacole on her return from the Crimean War. As for Equiano, there is no doubt that the abolition of slavery would have endured many more years without his passionate Christian narrative which, at the time, shook the establishment to the core.

Today in our schools, children from all backgrounds learn about, and are moved by, the stories of both individuals. It is not political correctness to keep them in, but it is historically and culturally incorrect to remove them from our rich tapestry of history, including the struggle for women's rights.

Even in the 1850s the famed Times reporter Sir W. H Russell said of Mary Seacole: "Let England not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.”

That is why thousands of people signed an online petition calling for Seacole not to be removed from the national curriculum. Seacole and Equiano are part of all our histories.

For the benefit of all our children now and in the future, we call upon you Mr Gove to rethink your plans to remove these two great Black Britons from the National Curriculum.


Rev Jesse Jackson Snr

Zadie Smith, Author

Andrea Levy, Author

Pauline Melville, Author

Malorie Blackman, Author

Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, Playwright

Dr Rob Berkley, Head of Runnymede

Prof Gus John, Educationalist

Greg Jenner, Horrible Histories

Verna Wilkins, Author

Diane Abbott MP

David Lammy MP

Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Education Secretary

Michael Rosen, Writer and Broadcaster

Paul Reid, Head of Black Cultural Archives

Steve Martin, Historian

Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of Association of Lecturers and Teachers

Lord Herman Ouseley

Lord Victor Adebowale CBE

Baroness Lola Young

Bonnie Greer OBE

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT

Lord Herman Ouseley

Garth Crooks, Former Spurs international

Dr Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, University of Leicester

Professor Julia O'Connell Davidson, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham

Gloria Mills CBE, Unison

John McDonnell MP

Baroness Kishwer Falkner

Bonnie Greer OBE

Kate Green MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Margaret Busby OBE, Publisher

Simon Woolley, Operation Black Vote

Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of 100 Great Black Britons

Prof Elizabeth Anionwu CBE & FRCN

Alex Pascal

Zita Holbourne, National Co-chair BARAC UK & PCS NEC

Khi Rafe, Community Advocate

Lester Holloway, Lib Dem Race Equality Taskforce

Pav Akhtar, Director UK Black Pride

Amarjite Singh – CWU

Kingsley Abrams, Unite

Sally Hunt, General Secretary UCU

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS

Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of ATL

Lee Jasper, National Co-Chair BARAC UK

George Ruddock, CEO The Voice

Aaron Kieley, NUS Black Students Officer

Jak Beula, Nubian Jak

Maggie Gee, OBE FRSL

George Galloway MP

Freddie Brown, Prospect

Mohammad Taj, Unite

Colette Corkhurst, Equality Officer Unite

Michelle Codrington-Rogers, NASUWT BME Committee

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, UCU

Caryl Phillips, Author

Verna Wilkins, Children's Author

Jeannette Arnold OBE AM

Baroness Lola Young OBE

Alex Pascall OBE

Luke Daniels, Caribbean Labour Solidarity

Roger McKenzie OBE, UNISON

Aminatta Forna, Author

Stephen Bourne, Author and Historian

Tony Warner, Black Historical Walks