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'Black history is British history': Christian MP calls for better black history curriculum in fight against racism

by Tola Mbakwe

A Christian MP has marked the beginning of Black History Month by urging the Government to ensure students are being thoroughly educated about black history all year round. 

In a video with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Labour MP Marsha de Cordova, said schools have a part to play in ending racism, especially in light of racial unrest this year. 

De Cordova said in the video: "The Black Lives Matter movement shone a light on racism in the UK and around the world. One way for the Government to act would be to ensure that young people learn about Black British history, colonialism and understand Britain's role in the transatlantic slave trade. Black history is British history."

The MP for Battersea's comments come after a recent study by Teach First revealed that students could leave secondary school without having studied literary work by a non-white author.

"Marcus Garvey has a famous quote, saying, 'a man that doesn't know his history, or his culture is like a tree with no roots'," she added.

"And I'll also say we had the McPherson report 20 years ago that also made reference to having a culturally diverse curriculum to help prevent racism. And more recently, with the Windrush review, really, if we want to be a progressive society, then we really should be looking at ensuring that our history, black history, which is British history, is part of the curriculum."

Marcia Dixon, religion correspondent for black newspaper The Voice and Christian PR specialist, echoed those thoughts. She told Premier black history curriculum has to be more than learning about slavery. 

"Most of the history that is taught in school about the black contribution to history has been around the whole subject of slavery. As important as it is to discover that, I think it's important for people to realise that prior to slavery, black people had their own kingdoms, they were inventing, they were writing, they were doing great things. 

"I just think it's wrong to focus on black people through the prism of slavery, poverty, police oppression, we are so much more than that. Since the protests over the killings of George Floyd, people are looking at the black community in a different way, which I think is a really good thing."

Dixon said Christians can celebrate black history this month by digging deeper into the black Christian history. 

"I think it's important to look at how black people have helped to shape Christianity," she said. 

"I would also encourage people to actually learn about the ways that Christian black people have been inspired and empowered by Christianity to actually fight against oppression. The whole thing about Gospel music, which has its roots in the spirituals, it arose as a musical response to the oppression that black people were experiencing.

"Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu not only espouse Christian values, but they are saying to society there is a better way to live. 

"As Christians, we can look in the Bible, look at Church history to see the role that black Christians have played in promoting the Gospel, but also fighting for justice, which is something that is very close to God's heart."

Listen to Premier's interview with Marcia Dixon here: 

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