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History queen reigns supreme

MISSION POSSIBLE: Stephanie Pitter with her children at a Martin Luther King remembrance celebration in Birmingham earlier this year

BLACK HISTORY campaigner Stephanie Pitter was leading the race of her life two months ago – to gather 100,000 signatures which was the magic number needed to have a Parliamentary debate on this highly controversial issue.

The mum-of-four from Birmingham wore out her shoe leather – literally – as she went from event to event talking, highlighting, and explaining how vital it is that the history of Africa and all that stems from that continent is on every primary school curriculum in the land.

The campaign gathered a strong momentum as high profile stars such as actor David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr in the film Selma, very publicly gave his support.

At the time Oyelowo said: “Black history is more than important. I think it is invaluable. Black people are part of the fabric of this nation.”

And as the deadline ticked down in February to collecting the 100,000 names, Stephanie found herself at the centre of a media frenzy as the story was also picked up by the rest of the UK and further afield.

So what has happened since 12 noon on February 10 when the numbers made just over the half way mark at 55,000 names?

“At the time I found it a bit disappointing that there were a few negative headlines that we didn’t make the 100k target,” Stephanie told The Voice.

“Realistically, we knew this wasn’t going to happen, but I thought people would start thinking ‘Oh that’s it then, she didn’t do it – let’s just move on to something else.”

But the figures are far from the end of the story as Stephanie and her small team are still working just as hard behind the scenes. There are plenty of plans, which she says have to remain under wraps for the time being, but will be revealed nearer the end of the year.

“We’re making great progress with politicians and that is really all I can say at the moment. But people also need to be aware that we are still collecting signatures with a paper petition,” she said.

In the meantime, she is firming up a date in June, when all the election mayhem has died down, to take the signatures down to No.10 Downing Street and present it to whoever is then in power.

“We are keeping the momentum going because this is more than just about numbers,” added Stephanie, whose four children are willing helpers in her campaign.

“I started this in Birmingham because that is my home and where my children go to school but now I want to go further afield. I am keen to start going to events in London and highlighting this issue there. I am also hoping to also do some lecturing.

“I would like a sponsor to help me to raise awareness of this in the capital by attending relevant events because we have to carry on with the message.

“I’ve had such support over the years – and not just from people in the African and Caribbean communities. I’ve had white teachers taking the pen from out of my hand saying ‘yes, something like this is long overdue. Let me sign it.’

“It’s so important that black history is not dominated by slavery where black people are seen as victims. There is so much that has been invented and created by black people down the centuries. They have helped to shape the world’s history but this often goes unnoticed.”

Community activist Desmond Jaddoo said: “Children are being born now who have no idea about our journey. With the General Election coming up, when people have politicians on their doorsteps, 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.”

Anyone who can help Stephanie to widen her campaign can email her at stephaniepitter@hotmail.co.uk

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