Tottenham MP visits Brent as part of Mary Seacole campaign
15:16 31 January 2013
David Lammy spoke out about plans to remove war nurse from the national curriculum
An MP has leant his support to a campaign calling on the government to abandon plans to remove war nurse Mary Seacole from the national curriculum.
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, spoke out against the plans on a visit to Brent, where he pledged to resist the efforts from central government to stop teachers from teaching pupils about her life.
Jamaican born Seacole was famed for setting up a ‘British Hotel’ behind the lines of the Crimean War in the 1800’s which provided support and a resting point for wounded soldiers.
She was posthumously awarded a Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991 and in 2004 was voted the Greatest Black Briton in a poll.
However, earlier this year plans emerged that Michael Gove, secretary of state for education was planning to have her removed from school syllabuses.
A campaign has since been launched by black rights group, Operation Black Vote calling on him to go back on his plans.
Speaking about the plans, Mr Lammy said: “Mary Seacole has earned her place in our textbooks regardless of the colour of her skin but the very fact that she is Black is why she is such an inspiring figure.
“The history we teach in our schools has to be relevant, particularly in as diverse a community as Brent, and should respect the fact that our shared history is not just a procession of Kings and Queens but a rich tapestry of people from across the globe.
“Many in my generation would have benefited immensely from learning about a woman that overcame racial prejudice to become one of the most celebrated figures in history.
“We have to resist those determined to rob today’s children of that privilege.”
Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala (Lab), a Stonebridge ward councilor, who joined Mr Lammy on his visit echoed calls for the government to retract their plans.
He said: “The Secretary of State for Education should abandon his plans immediately. “We should teach our children an inclusive history that celebrates our rich diversity and the great contributions made by our diverse community.”