Jeremy Corbyn is set to unveil plans which would see school children taught about black British history, the legacy of the British Empire and the nation’s role in slavery.
In a speech in Bristol on Thursday to mark Black History Month, the Labour leader is expected to tell crowds that black British activists like Paul Stephenson - who played a central role in the Bristol bus boycott - must become as well known as figures like Rosa Parks.
“Black history is British history and it should not be confined to a single month each year,” Corbyn will say, revealing plans for Labour’s new ‘Emancipation Educational Trust’.
Set up to teach future generations about slavery and the struggle for emancipation, the Trust will deliver programmes in schools, as well as organising trips to historic sites. It is expected to be launched under the next Labour government.
“In the light of the Windrush scandal, Black History Month has taken on 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, colonisation and slavery,” Corbyn will tell the audience, accompanied by shadow equalities secretary Dawn Butler.
He will use his speech to pay tribute to 81-year-old Stephenson, who founded the West Indian Development Council to campaign against racism in Bristol after black and Asian people were banned from working on buses in the city in 1963.
Calling the activist a “true British hero”, Corbyn will add: “It was the bravery and determination of people like Paul, standing up against injustice, that paved the way for the first Race Relations Act and the outlawing of such discrimination in our country.
“It is vital that future generations understand the role that black Britons have played in our country’s history and the struggle for race equality.”
The move has been welcomed by race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, with its director Dr Omar Khan saying: “Teaching this history is important not just for BME children, but for everyone in Britain.
“Knowing our past isn’t just a question of historical literacy, but of recognising who Britain is, and of learning from the struggles and contributions of those who opposed racism so that we can better further those values today.”
Labour’s announcement on education comes just days after HuffPost UK brought to light an official GCSE sociology textbook that stereotyped Caribbean families, including claims that men are “largely absent” and children are passed between relatives.