(Jamaica Gleaner) A proposal by the British government to remove the name of Jamaica’s Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum has been met my outrage in the UK.
Already, a Facebook campaign has started and a petition led by Operation Black Vote is being signed, to pressure Britain’s Education Secretary, Michael Gove, from going ahead with his plans. “We are opposed to this and wish to see Mary Seacole retained so that current and future generations can appreciate this important historical person,” says Operation Black Vote in a statement on change.org.
The statement, which has been endorsed by Prof Elizabeth Anionwu – Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, Khi Rafe, Councillor Patrick Vernon – Every Generation Media and Councillor Lester Holloway, says Seacole’ role in the Crimea War fully justifies her status as a Victorian figure taught in schools today.
She was a national heroine on her return to Britain and a crowd of 80,000 attended a four day fundraising benefit in her honour in 1857.
Her inclusion on the National Curriculum came as a result of a tireless campaigning to recognise someone who had become a forgotten figure in modern times.
Her proposed removal can only be attributed to a recent backlash against Mary Seacole as a symbol of ‘political correctness’ by Right-wing media and commentators. To remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum is tantamount to rewriting history to fit a world view hostile to Britain’s historical diversity, are the arguments coming from the organisation.
They cautioned that moreover, the teaching of Black historical figures is widely recognised to be beneficial to the success of Black pupils and in closing the GCSE achievement gap. Indeed it is to advantage of pupils from all backgrounds in our increasingly diverse schools and society. Mary Seacole, as a Jamaican/Scottish figure, is a positive role model and is well-respected in NHS circles.
Sir W. H Russell, Crimean War correspondent for The Times, said of Seacole: “Let England not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.”
Mary Seacole is the only black figure to feature in the National Curriculum not connected to civil rights or enslavement and removing someone who was voted by the public the Greatest Black Briton (100greatblackbritons.com) sends out the wrong signals.