Radical Black Women School’s Resource Launch
Earlier this month, Lawrence Wishart in collaboration with YHP and Meera Shakti Osborne published three school resources as part of their Radical Black Women series. To celebrate the launch YHP were invited to the 198 Gallery by Lawrence Wishart on Saturday 15th October to engage in a discussion about the ways in which publishers can work together with educators, activists, academic and artists to better arm students and teachers with the tools and resources to teach often the overlooked history of Black people in Britain.
The Radical Black Women series is about Black women who have made important contributions to organisations for justice and racial equality in Britain over the past 100 years. It features women such as: Amy Ashwood Garvey, Claudia Jones, Jessica Huntley and Gerlin Bean. Their stories are all being published in books that have already been released by Lawrence Wishart or are coming out soon.
We were honoured to be invited and listen to the panel chaired by Jumanah Younis (books editor at Lawrence Wishart) featuring Kaitlene Koranteng (Young Historians Project Coordinator and Archivist), Nydia A. Swaby (Caird Research Fellow, Royal Museums Greenwich), Shabna Begum (Head of Research, Runnymede Trust), and A. S. Francis (Young Historians Project Consultant and PhD Student, University of Chichester). Additionally, A. S. Francis, a long-term member of YHP, will be publishing a book with Lawrence Wishart on Gerlin Bean as part of the Radical Black Women series.
The discussions featured conversations about the archives and the time and emotional labour it takes to conduct historical research into Britain’s anti-racist history, and integral to that history are the radical women of the 20th century from the Caribbean and Africa. There was consensus amongst audience members that teachers are often time poor and do not have the time to access the archives in the way historians might do. This illuminated one of the ways historians could support teachers who often want to teach more diverse histories but lack time to change schemes of work. Alongside this, we also discussed the role in which archives play in ensuring these histories are coherently translated in their entirety (as much as capacity allows) in educational resources. We also discussed how the curriculum could encourage children and young people to seek histories from their grandparents and other family members so they too can begin to see themselves in the histories they learn about.
As members of YHP, we spoke about our experiences of the British education system and our mixed experiences in studying or not studying Black history at school level. Amongst many of us, there was a consensus that taught history in Britain, particularly outside of cities, scarcely mentioned Black history in the British context. Furthermore, there were contributions from audience members including Martin Spafford, former History teacher and founding member of the Black and Asian Studies Association, Dr Hannah Ishmael, archivist at the Black Cultural Archives and historian Dr Kesewa John. The power of sharing research, knowledge and skills for the bettering of today’s education system was a key message from the launch event. Between archives, publishers and educational institutions, it is clear that we can work together to create effective interventions into the learning of our young people in Britain through the History class.
Currently, 70% of state funded secondary schools follow the suggested non-statutory topics suggested by the Department for Education’s National Curriculum for History. Only once is the term ‘empire’ mentioned, with scarce mention of South Asian countries and none of Africa or the Caribbean. By collaborating with other activists and institutions to create resources for students, these resources not only affirm Black students that their history is part of Britain’s history, but they can affirm teachers that there are accessible materials available to widen their own knowledge as well as their students’. Raising the consciousness not only of black and other minoritised ethnic students but of all students is integral to the acknowledgement of Black presence, radicalism and social life is part of Britain’s historical fabric.
Before we attended the event, we met for lunch and spent time getting to know each other as it was the first time many of us had met, away from the virtual world that is Zoom! We had a great time exchanging stories about our love for history and how we became members of The Young Historians Project.
To access the Radical Black Women series resources for free, follow this link to download work books for:
● Key Stage 3
● Key Stage 4
● 16+ (Key Stage 5)