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Black History Month
Canford School in Dorset celebrated Black History Month as part of its school-wide enrichment with a programme of workshops, activities, visiting speakers and film designed to encourage pupils and staff to explore the influential part played by black people across the globe.
Visiting speakers historical researcher, writer and editor, Dr Angelina Osborne, writer and journalist Patrice Lawrence MBE, and the acclaimed Barber Shop Chronicles complemented internal activities during the month. There were screenings of ‘One Night in Miami’ – a fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s and ‘Harriet’ – the tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, a talk by current teacher Mr Wilson on his experiences as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and the cricketing history of the West Indies, and following recent nationally-publicised events in cities and at universities, pupils debated the motion ‘This house supports the removal of statues of historical figures linked to institutional racism’ which provoked some excellent presentations and thoughtful viewpoints. Curriculum lessons spanning both Arts and Sciences focused on the influence of black people in history, such as Geographers exploring the underground railroads, the Art department examining the work of Mark Bradford, Chris Ofili and El Anatsui, Sport tackling theory on ethnicity and sport and barriers to inclusion and Classicists looking at the diversity of Roman London.
Pupils and staff were also encouraged to learn more about black history in the local area with an exhibition in the school’s theatre foyer space exploring 400 years of the presence of black people in Dorset including African American GIs on Poole Quay and a freed enslaved American living in Bournemouth.
Headmaster Ben Vessey commented:
“American historian, professor, and pioneer in the creation of Pan-African and Africana studies John Henrik Clarke stated:
“History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but, more importantly, what they must be.’
It is important that we all recognise we have a significant responsibility to better understand how those words apply not just to our own view of history and our own lives but to explore a wider perspective of history and to engage with open eyes, ears, hearts and minds as to how that very different and varied experience has shaped and developed the world in which we live.”
Elements of the programme were further incorporated into the school’s annual Festival of Ideas, this year entitled ‘The Individual in Society.’ https://issuu.com/canfordschool/docs/festival_of_ideas_2021