History Curriculum: Black History

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:46 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet 5:46 pm, 8th September 2020

I do agree with that, and of course, coming as the hon. Gentleman does from Northern Ireland, he understands the emotional resonance that the history of controversial events in our past still has. I know that he and colleagues in the Northern Ireland devolved institutions have worked hard to try to ensure that this decade of very sensitive and politically charged centenaries has passed off peacefully. I very much hope that that continues as we move towards the centenary of partition and the creation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. It is a reminder of how history is so relevant to our outlook on so many issues today, whether that is the subject of this evening’s debate or those centenaries in Northern Ireland.

We also need to understand that the racism and injustice that black and other ethnic minorities were subjected to in this country’s history was pervasive; it was often violent; it lasted for centuries; and its legacy continues to have an impact today. Even a cursory understanding of black history provides a reminder that the values that we are rightly proud to espouse in this country—that everyone should be entitled to equal concern and respect, whatever their ethnicity and from wherever their ancestors might have come—were the result of very long, and sometimes very bitter, struggles, and that many steps forward were strongly opposed at the time, including in Parliament.

The time available for this debate does not enable us to do any kind of justice to the richness of the story of the lives of black British people over so many hundreds of years.