We’ve won ! - Mary Seacole, Olaudah Equiano


Thanks to nearly 36,000 signatories, letters to the Secretary of State for education, politicians, unions, writers and activist, today we celebrate the fact that our children and the next generation of children will be taught about the great exploits of both Mary Seacole and Olaudah Equiano. Furthermore, the importance of diversity within our education system, particularly in history will now be greatly valued.

Back in December a leaked document suggested that Equiano and Seacole be scrapped from the Curriculum.

Simon Woolley stated:

'This is a great day for education, but also a great day for the Black community and many others who demanded greater racial justice within our education system. There are too many people to thank personally but, The Voice, The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, and Change.org all threw their considerable weight behind this campaign. Seacole and Equiano would both be saying our spirits fantastically live on with todays activist."

Responding to the campaign, Secretary of State Michael Gove wrote personally to OBV and campaigenrs stating:

We are lucky to be heirs to a very rich mix of exceptional thinkers, bold reformers and courageous political activists. I agree that is important that our children learn about difference that these figures have made, and it is right that we do more, not less to make subjects relevant to the lives of our children.'

Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing, said,

'Thanks to all 36,000 people who signed the Operation Black Vote Petition. Mary Seacole AND Olaudah Equiano & Florence Nightingale are all cited in Key Stage 3 of the proposed national curriculum. Brilliant, just brilliant!'

Zita Holbourne of BARAC stated,

'This campaign just goes to show that if we stand our ground, stick together and assert our collective 'People Power' we succeed.'

Notes for editors:

Notes in todays Government consultation document.

  • Britain's social and cultural development during the Victorian era, including:  the changing role of women, including figures such as Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, George Eliot and Annie Besant
  • The slave trade and the abolition of slavery, the role of Olaudah Equiano and free slaves

Archived Comments

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Black History Recognised

A wonderful achievement and thank you and well done to OBV and all its supporters for making this a successful campaign. It goes to show what people power can do (incidentally Tories reaffirming their qualities on their ability to do a u-turn . .second one of the day!)

Ability To Listen.

"incidentally Tories reaffirming their qualities on their ability to do a u-turn"

They have done more listening in their short time in office as a coalition government than New Labour did in thirteens years of their tragic racist rule that put the BNP out of operation.

A Pyrrhic victory

Although the inclusion of Seacole and Equiano is welcomed, the new NC proposals are a disgrace. They represent the complete reversal of all the progress that has been made over the last decade in ensuring Britain's diverse history is recognised and taught in schools. The tokenistic reference to Seacole and Equiano ignores the significant contributions that have been made to this country by people of Black and Asian heritage and wipes out a presence that has been recorded since Roman times. The first time any student will even know of this presence, under the new proposals, will be after studying history for 7 years! and the first thing they will be taught is that Black people were slaves. Gone is the awareness of African civilizations, the Blackmoors in Tudor Britain, radicals such as Cuffay, Davidson and Wedderburn. Where will students learn of the writings of Ignatius Sancho, the performances of Ira Aldridge or Samuel Coleridge Taylor? How can they be inspired by the pioneering efforts of Walter Tull or Claudia Jones? This misguided, amateurish attempt to impose a narrow, Little Englander interpretation of history must be challenged with the same vigour and passion as the campaign to support Seacole.

yeah right..

Ability to listen. . . I guess better late than never. This government has shown it listens to no-one in the early stages of policy development, not even experts. Only when the public backlash happens they are forced into embarassing u-turms.