October is Black History Month.
The reason this is important is that the past contribution of black people to our history in the UK is all but overlooked.
I strongly support what Black History Month does, particularly in our schools.
This is necessary for children and young people from immigrant families and for those whose families have always lived here.
Our history is made by all the people here whether they have been here for generations or are newly arrived.
I want to use this year’s black history month to celebrate the current contribution of black people of Southwark.
Our democracy can only command confidence if all are represented.
We are fortunate in Southwark to have black councillors, rooted in and speaking up for their communities.
Evelyn Akoto is one of the councillors for Old Kent Road ward.
Her family came from Ghana and at the age of 6 brought her to live on the Aylesbury Estate where she grew up.
She now leads for Southwark council’s cabinet on the issues of health and wellbeing.
Johnson Situ was born in King’s College Hospital to a family who came from Nigeria and was brought up on what was the North Peckham Estate.
He is one of the councillors for Peckham and works in City Hall in a senior role as right hand man for the Mayor of London.
I want us to celebrate all our black councillors in Camberwell and Peckham and acknowledge how important they are in our democracy: Peter Babudu, Dora Dixon-Fyle, Jason Ochere, Victoria Olisa, Sandra Rhule, Michael Situ, Cleo Soanes.
Parliament needs to be representative of all communities as that’s the whole point of democracy. So our House of Commons benefits greatly from the contribution of my neighbouring MP Florence Eshalomi who speaks with an authoritative voice for her community in Vauxhall.
Black people from Southwark have played a leading role in our arts and sporting achievements.
John Boyega who’s famous worldwide for his part in Star Wars learnt to love acting at Theatre Peckham.
Our achievements at this year’s European Championship put the spotlight on a new generation of young black footballers who offer such promise for the future.
Southwark has honoured Jadon Sancho who was born here and started his career here.
Doreen Lawrence, another resident of South-east London has responded to the tragic murder of her son Stephen by driving a root and branch reform to challenge racism in the Met.
She’s now in the House of Lords and brings her unique voice and experience to our Parliament.
Too many black people who shaped our past have been forgotten.
I want to celebrate the black people who are shaping our present.
These are just a very few of them.
As well as removing the statues of those who grew rich by exploiting and abusing black slaves, perhaps we should be asking why there are virtually no statues of black people who’ve played leading roles in making our country the great place it is today.
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