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Why teaching black history in schools matters

BLACK HISTORY: The representation of black people in textbooks and the media has rarely reflected people of African Caribbean descent positively

IT HAS often been said that the power of a people lies in their understanding of who they are and their ability to pass this knowledge down to their young.

In other words, your history is your network of roots that plant you firmly on your foundation, so that you can stand strong and tall, with your head held high.

No one can knock you off such a foundation. Without knowledge of history, the world, for a young child, is a very small place.

Knowledge of black history provides our young people with wonderful role models who persevered in some of the most difficult situations.

Our heroes and sheroes may have been born at a time when our world was unjust and unfair to black people, but they did not let these injustices define them.

Instead, they moved forward, broke barriers and achieved their goals against the odds.

The debate about black history has been re-ignited after author Madeline Heneghan, co-author of Great War to Race Riots, which looks at the murder of a black seaman 100 years ago, encouraged the overlooked historical events in black history to be incorporated into mainstream education.

Her call follows the introduction of a pilot curriculum in Bristol designed to teach pupils about black history.

The representation of black people in textbooks and the media has rarely reflected people of African Caribbean descent positively.

Our ancestors are often portrayed as either servants or slaves. Those who fought against the injustice experienced by black citizens were labelled as rebels.

Redefining this will help all sections of society, not just young people.

Just as teaching subjects like mathematics, science and history are important, teaching black history is also important.

When students are educated not to respect or appreciate the fact that black people have made valuable contributions to Britain, they are taught not to respect or value black people living in Britain today.

The end result is insensitivity, distrust and a disdain for treating others with respect.

Teaching black history benefits students, not just during Black History Month, but all year long.

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