Don’t consign Mary Seacole to history, Michael Gove is urged

Don’t consign Mary Seacole to history, Michael Gove is urged

The Independent
London, England

Kevin Rawlinson

Petition launched to prevent Crimean War nurse being written out of school textbooks

Leading black Britons have united to urge the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to abandons his plan to remove the country’s most celebrated black historical figure from the school curriculum.

The campaign group Operation Black Vote has launched a petition to demand that Mary Seacole, who cared for soldiers on the front line during the Crimean War, and was as famous as Florence Nightingale during her lifetime, is not left out of textbooks.

“What does removing her name achieve, other than telling those who are racist that they have a point?” asked the writer and campaigner Darcus Howe, who is supporting the petition…

…Seacole’s efforts in the Crimea earned her the adulation of thousands of ex-servicemen, despite her postwar descent into bankruptcy. Her exploits were largely forgotten after her death in 1881, before a successful campaign was launched to ensure that her story was taught in primary schools.

Mr Gove’s plan to remove her from the syllabus once again has outraged many black people, including the Labour MP, Diane Abbott, and the Rev Jesse Jackson, the  US civil rights campaigner who also supports the petition. Ms Abbott said yesterday: “Students in this country already learn about traditional figures such as Winston Churchill, Oliver Cromwell and Florence Nightingale. Mary Seacole is simply another such important individual. Not of less significance and certainly not expendable.

“In addition to this, she is one of the most distinct examples of how black history is an integral part of British  history. Michael Gove should be fully aware of the message that this decision sends.”…

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