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Activist calls for meeting with Corbyn on black education

PICTURED: Jeremy Corbyn

A COLLECTIVE OF Birmingham activists on educational issues has called out Jeremy Corbyn over his statement that teaching black history shouldn’t be con ned to one month.

The Labour Party leader’s comments about education outside of Black History Month have attracted the attention of former parent governor and activist Stephanie Pitter. She is now spearheading the call to bring Corbyn to the Second City, so the black community’s campaigning is not forgotten.

Ms Pitter has twice brought petitions to the Department for Education to spark debate on the matter, as part of a sustained period of campaigning that stretches back to 2012. Close to 80,000 signatures have been collected through a mix of paper and online peti- tioners from across the UK.

She told The Voice: “We agree with Jeremy Corbyn’s principal but it is important that developments in this area involve us, the people on the ground who have worked hard to make this happen. We have been the forgotten people in many arenas, and we are keen for this not to happen again and that we can play a part in steering how this develops.

“My point here is that we are the people that have been ghting in Birmingham, London and other cities in the UK for this for six years. We want Mr Corbyn to be aware of us and the 80,000 people that have given their input. We have the right to be heard and we have the right to stand up for our rights."

CAMPAIGN: Stephanie Pitter has been petitioning politicians on education of black history, but has been rejected by government ministers – so now she hopes to meet Jeremy Corbyn

“We want that meeting with Mr Corbyn so he can hear our passion, our journeys and the letters that have been sent to and from the government and details of the meetings we have attended in the past that have been a part of our stories and journeys.”

In 2012, Pitter started a campaign in Birmingham to raise awareness of black history.
The campaign progressed to London and other cities, culminating in the presentation of 10,000 signatures to the then- leader of Birmingham City Council Albert Bore, and the beginning of a dialogue around the possibility of adding black history to school curricula.


Two years later, Pitter and co embarked on the road to collecting the required 100,000 signatures to stimulate a parliamentary debate on the subject. Corbyn is not the first high-ranking politician to hear of the campaign.

Conservative MPs Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan, during their tenures as Secretary of State for Education, have both featured on the campaign mailing list. Prime Minister Theresa May’s response was to refuse a potential meeting, arguing that “all schools aim to teach a balanced curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical wellbeing of all children” adding that there are no “plans to put black history in our studies for schools”.

A similar reply was to follow from Morgan and Gove’s successor, Nick Gibbs – even with the support of Pitter’s own MP, James Morris, the Conservative representative for Halesowen and Rowley Regis in the Black Country.

Gibbs also claimed the curriculum was a balanced one and that teachers can cover black history in Black History Month. Unperturbed, Pitter and co returned to the campaign trail last year, and secured another 30,000 signatures, to bring the total near to the 80,000 mark.

“We have worked so hard over the last six years to bring awareness to the government, and our community also, to fight for our stories to be told,” said the dedicated campaigner.

Pitter, a mother of four, is a former parent governor at the Four Dwellings Primary Academy and was instrumental in it becoming one of the first primary schools in Birmingham to study black history in February, to coincide with celebrations in the US, Canada and the Caribbean.

The Labour Party office has acknowledged receipt of Pitter’s letter but has yet to make a formal response.

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