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Black History Month overview

During October, King Edward’s School and King Edward VI High School for Girls have been celebrating Black History Month and in particular all those women who are unsung heroes. The last week before half term was full of more exciting events including a visit from Dr Stuart Lawrence, the brother of Stephen Lawrence and son of Baroness Lawrence, one of the sisters we have saluted this Black History Month with her contributions to racial discrimination and institutional racism. Stuart is an experienced teacher of Graphics and Technology as well as a well-known author and motivational speaker. Both King Edward’s School, and King Edward VI High School for Girls were honoured with an assembly from Dr Lawrence as well as workshops with our Divisions and Sixths.

On Monday, Dr Stuart Lawrence came to give us a talk on his life story and what his mission was. Dr Lawrence began to tell us about his brother who was fatally wounded in a racially motivated attack when he was still only a teenager. Dr Lawrence talked about the immediate effect on him as he had to go to school the following day, but also the long-term struggle in trying to get the police to convict the attackers involved, and that the lack of police support placed a real struggle. Dr Lawrence advocated for us to rethink our attitudes towards other people and to challenge some of our racist preconceptions.”

Alex – Sixths

“We found the Stuart Lawrence talk to be extremely engaging and insightful. His attitude and passion to help spread positivity amongst young people like us really has inspired us to work harder towards our goals and to have an optimistic impact on our personal friend groups and school community. His consistent determination has shown that despite the setbacks he has experienced during his life, anybody can make a difference and that it only takes one to spark a positive change and overall outlook on life.”

Duy and Rowan – Sixths

As well as a thought provoking and intriguing assembly by Dr Lawrence, students from ACS (African and Caribbean Society) delivered a wonderful and interactive assembly to KES Lower School on “Saluting our Sisters”. The students spoke about a number of women from African and Caribbean heritage and their contributions to the society we live in. These included Diane Abbott, Dina Asher-Smith, Olivette Otele and Malorie Blackman and many more. Students knew some of these prominent women and were able to learn more about others. Alongside these assemblies, Anagnostics Society led a fantastic talk on “Hatshepsut: The First Female Pharoah” lead by Carys Hughes, the KES Osborn Fellow.

“This year’s BHM theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’ inspired me to give a talk on Hatshepsut, a woman whose achievements for many centuries went forgotten and unsung. She was a fascinating figure, who took on an unprecedented level of power by declaring herself Pharaoh of Egypt and led the country into an era of peace and prosperity. Yet despite her successes during her lifetime, after her death her memory and legacy were erased and forgotten. I spoke to a keen group of students from both KES and KEHS, who attended the Anagnostics club to hear about her reign and to learn more about this legendary leader. It was a well-received talk, and I hope it opened some eyes about the diversity of the ancient world.”

Carys Hughes – KES Osborn Fellow

As a teacher, woman and from a Caribbean family, BHM was truly a celebration of positive contributions within Britain and celebrating those women who are often forgotten, and those who have changed the narrative by using their platforms to break norms and be prominent role models to the younger generations. Learning about diverse cultures throughout history enables us to open our minds, question our societal norms and make ways for new generations to become trailblazers. An influential speaker once told me that it’s great being the first to achieve something but what’s more important is that we don’t become the last but inspire those coming up and give them the strength to fulfil their aspirations. I hope this BHM has allowed the students to learn more about African and Caribbean cultures, contributions made throughout British history and inspired students to have high aspirations to achieve successfully and break barriers to become the first, second, third but never the last but continue to build a diverse society for all to feel welcome, seen and heard.

Miss Bréchon-Smith – Teacher of Mathematics, Head of Sixths, African and Caribbean Society

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