Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

Black History in Schools petition fails to hit 100k target

2015-02-12 00:28:42

Maxie Hayles and Stephanie PitterDETERMINED: Stephanie Pitter and Maxie Hayles at the countdown

There were emotional scenes as the final seconds ticked down to the deadline for an online petition urging people everywhere to sign up for black history to be taught in UK primary schools.

But a tearful Stephanie Pitter, the Birmingham mother who single-handedly started the campaign, was adamant that her crusade will go on despite not reaching the magic 100,000 number, forcing the issue to be discussed in Parliament.

Along with supporters, she plans to take the 55,000 names she now has to the steps of No. 10 Downing Street next month, amid pledges that the campaign will continue.

The countdown to the 12 noon deadline yesterday (Feb 10) was covered live during New Style Radio's Political Hour programme, led by Desmond Jaddoo.

After a minute's silence as the deadline was reached Stephanie said: "Our journey is far from over. We will still be lobbying out on the streets and at events.

"We may not have reached the required 100,000 names, but the 55,000 people who have supported us have raised awareness of this campaign and that is what is so important.

"People are now far more aware of the need for all our primary school age children to know about the importance of black history and the role it has played in this country.

We have 43,000 names online and a further 12,000 on paper. We will be taking this directly to the Prime Minister next month. This is not over by any means."

Veteran community activist Maxie Hayles, who was at the countdown, added: "Yes, 100,000 would have been a bonus, but Stephanie has stood up and been counted and she should be given great credit for that.

"All Governments in this country insist that the history of 1066 is taught in schools - no one insists that the history of the Moors is taught alongside that. There is so much of our rich culture prior to slavery that is simply never taught. It's time it was. Black history is not just for black children."

Desmond Jaddoo, while running his show on New Style, added: "Children are being born now who have no idea about our journey. With the General Election coming up, when people have politicians on their doorstep, they should ask them what is going to be done about this.

"Black history is now clearly on the agenda and we need to keep it that way."

Many high profile names have added their support to the petition including Birmingham-born footballer Daniel Sturridge. Actor David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr in the recently released film Selma, has also added his support.

When asked if it was important that black history is taught in primary schools, the British-born actor said: "It is more than important. I think it is invaluable. Black people are part of the fabric of this nation."

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