Jeremy Corbyn has announced proposals to increase the amount of Black history taught in schools, along with the history of the British empire, colonialism, and slavery, which becomes much more important in light of the recent Windrush scandal.
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“Black history is British history, and it should not be confined to a single month each year. It is vital that future generations understand the role that Black Britons have played in our country’s history and the struggle for racial equality," Corbyn said Thursday during a visit to Bristol which grew rich off the back of the slave trade to mark Black History Month which has been marked in the U.K. every October for more than 30 years.
“In the light of the Windrush scandal, Black History Month has taken on a renewed significance and it is more important now than ever that we learn and understand as a society the role and legacy of the British empire, colonization and slavery.”
The Windrush generation is named after a ship with similar nomenclature brought the first wave of Caribbean migrants to the U.K. in 1948 due to post-World War II labor loss.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that some Windrush migrants and their children wrongly faced deportation as a result of “hostile environment” immigration policy. The government apologized for the case.
During his visit, Corbyn also announced the plans for a new Emancipation Educational Trust to educate children on "how slavery interrupted a rich African and Black history", the Labour leader said.
On his visit, he also met civil rights campaigner Paul Stephenson who organized the Bristol bus boycott in the 1960s which led to the end of a ban on people from ethnic minorities working on Bristol buses. Corbyn compared it with the famous Montgomery bus boycott by Rosa Parks in the United States.
When asked how a Labour government would enforce that change, Corbyn replied: “We’re not keen on enforcing things on curricula, we’re more keen on encouraging people and promoting it.
“Let’s understand our history, let’s understand the brutality that went with it and let’s understand the immense bravery of people that spoke out against the slave trade at a time when the wealthiest in Britain were making a vast amount of money out of that trade and eventually Wilberforce’s bill was passed in parliament.”
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His proposal drew criticism from the Conservative party who had accused him of giving importance to ideology above children’s education. Tory MPs have questioned why Corbyn did not want to focus on more positive aspects of Britain’s history, such as its role in the world wars against ‘tyranny and dictatorship’.
Former International Development Secretary Priti Patel said a Labour Party "whose politicians and activists act as apologists for the crimes of dictators and terrorists who have threatened our country should be let nowhere near our schools. ... We have already seen that Corbyn and his cronies want to brainwash school children and end the freedom of the Press, now they want to talk down our country."