MISSION POSSIBLE: Stephanie Pitter with her two daughters Zynai (left) and Yvene
STEPHANIE PITTER is a mum on a mission and she has one important goal – to get enough people to support her campaign to have black history taught in schools as part of the national curriculum.
Five minutes spent with this mother-of-four is long enough to see the passion which drives her as she spends hours on her feet at all kinds of events urging people to sign her petition.
But people are adding their name to Stephanie’s crusade in their thousands – in fact she has collected 5,000 names in the past five months.
“My aim is to collect 100,000 names and then it can be discussed in Parliament. It then becomes a proper issue for serious debate,” says the former teaching assistant whose Birmingham home is packed with inspirational posters and charts explaining the many hundreds of contributions black people have made to the world.
“I would like to have a GCSE option in either black history or literature available in schools,” adds Stephanie who collected more than 3,000 names during the recent Jamaica in the Square event in Birmingham city centre celebrating Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence.
“The response I’ve had is incredible. People say ‘oh I’m so proud of what you are doing. Are you an organisation?’ and I say ‘no I’m just a mum on a mission.’"
“I get a lot of white teachers who say to me ‘give me the pen I want to sign this. I’ve been trying to teach black history in my school for years.’”
Stephanie is busy doing the rounds of visiting schools, making presentations and talking to teachers. She also has people who have put together material that could be taught at various levels.
“The overwhelming majority are all behind it. I’ve only had one head teacher who said they felt including black history would ‘dilute, rather than enhance’ the curriculum.
“But I don’t want our history to be just about slavery, Martin Luther King or Mary Seacole. I’m not belittling these – they are major events and people in our history, but there is a lot more too that simply goes unnoticed.”
Stephanie proudly brandishes a large chart showing 100 black inventors – people who created everything from egg-beaters and floppy discs to elevators, gas marks and horseshoes. Each is a story in itself.
She adds: “We will never cut out racism but teaching black history in our schools would help our children realise where they have come from and where they are going. It helps children from other backgrounds understand each other’s culture – how and why they behave.”
Local support for Stephanie is immense with organisations like The Drum arts centre and the African Caribbean Millennium Centre (ACMC) giving her their full backing and helping out with petition collections.
People wanting to help can email Stephanie for a petition form and when completed they can post it or deliver it to the ACMC at 339 Dudley Road, Winson Green, Birmingham B18 4HB.
Her email address is stephaniepitter@hotmail. co.uk or ring mobile 07873 619 337