Clegg: Seacole stays!

nick-clegg-reception-450_8Nick Clegg has joined a growing list of prominent figures opposed to any move to axe Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole from the school curriculum.

Just days after Archbishop John Sentamu wrote about the need to remember Seacole in his Sunday newspaper column, the deputy prime minister told me that he wanted the Victorian icon to remain in the textbooks.

I met Clegg last evening along with a small delegation of Black and Asian Liberal Democrats to discuss other race equality matters. When I raised the subject of Mary Seacole being dumped from the national curriculum, Clegg responded: “That’s not going to happen.”

Yesterday the petition to restore Seacole and the slavery abolitionist Olaudah Equiano topped 30,000 signatures, a record for race equality petitions in the UK.

Clegg joins an expanding list of politicians from all political parties who want Seacole to continue to be taught in schools, including Lib Dem peer Floella Benjamin and Labour MPs Diane Abbott and David Lammy.

A number of celebrities have also thrown their weight behind the campaign including author Zadie Smith, playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah and civil rights leader Rev Jesse Jackson Snr., who joined 60 other public figures to write an open letter to education secretary Michael Gove in the Times newspaper.

Singer Beverley Knight, actor Adrian Lester, and comedienne Angie le Mar have also tweeted support for the campaign.

By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway

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10 thoughts on “Clegg: Seacole stays!

  1. Brilliant, keep up the pressure, Gove ‘exists’ in some other century, the trouble is Labour and Steven Twigg are allowing to get away with all sorts of crazy and dangerous ‘ideas’.

  2. I am not black but I do believe that history should be taught correctly and fairly, featuring all the contributions made by all people, however high or low and however popular or possibly unknown they were at the time of historic events. Mary Seacole made a significant contribution to British soldiers in the Crimea, and it is a fact that some British people alive today would not even be here if she had not carried out her invaluable work of tending to the wounded and injured in the Crimea.

    • She should definitely stay in schools. When you see what the children of today look up to, i think it is essential that we speak of those who did something worthwhile and not a load of jumped up celebrities.

  3. It is very important for the understanding of the development of Britain, that Equiano is studied. This book is the most important piece of literature available, with regard to the slave trade, abolition, and also human suffering.

  4. I do not think that Mary Seacole should be erased from the children’s history books as she played a significant part in the Crimean war. At my nephew’s school, they keep her name alive by calling one of their house names Seacole.

  5. As a Scot, Gove should be aware that it was ordinary people, not historians, that enlightened the Scottish people of Scotland’s extensive historical connections with British Slavery in Jamaica and other slave colonies. This history is now part of the Scottish Curriculum of Excellence and Mary Seacole is a part of this history. Mary’s Britishness uniquely embodies not only to her special and exemplary war service to the Empire, it relates to a period of British slave history that has been described as, ‘the most profitable evil the world has known’. Gove should be reminded that where ignorance exists, education cannot afford to fail.

  6. That may be one battle won, and I think if it has been, its the easiest, as even the disgraceful article in the Mail conceded Seacole was a British patriot. But what about people who were not? Will Clegg & the Lib Dems stand up for that which does not fit with Goves dictat and flawed conception of a patriotic national story to be foisted on all children: The Rhani of Jhansi or Paul Bogle are just 2 significant examples of resistance to the British Empire, and there are plenty of others, essential for understanding Empire history, and learning about Britains role in the world. Are they and their viewpoint to be excluded? The current curriculum structure can include them, and it should be developed further and improved, not ditched. And what about many aspects of world history and world civilisations long before or once far beyond European Domination – Africa, India, China, The Americas etc. There is some space for these to figure in the current curriculum, albeit inadequately but it looks as if world history will be written out of the statutory curriculum. Will the people who support the Seacole campaign also campaign to preserve and develop history which allows children to discover that Britain is not the centre of all world history?

  7. As a member of the Labour Party I am extremely disappointed that they are not challenging Michael Gove. For too long British history was only about the white, rich elite. If a woman like Mary Seacole is to be expunged from history curriculum how long before the industrial revolution is reduced to inventors and innovators and those that became rich? Michael Gove has a very blinkered view of education which is in danger of reducing education as something that is an entitlement of the rich and middle classes reinforcing their notions of success and entitlement.

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