“The more you know of your
history, the more liberated you
As Black History Month ends and with the heightened conversation surrounding racism worldwide, I have been reflecting on what this month means to me. I was never a big fan of history growing up, I’d often find myself nodding off in class; Geography was more my bag. However, over the years I have not only learnt the importance of history in aiding our
understanding of where we are from but also what has come before us. To me, this further highlights the importance of Black History Month. My ‘history’ is all the more interesting having grandparents who emigrated to the UK in 1955 from Jamaica, making me a second-generation British Citizen, with a rich history spanning my British and Jamaican heritage.
As a child I attended a Saturday School which helped me to gain a deeper understanding of my heritage; we covered subjects including Black History alongside Maths and English. It was here where I learnt about black role models including Mary Seacole, Marcus Garvey and Steve Biko (our Saturday School was named after him) amongst others. Sadly, none of this was ever taught at mainstream school. For me personally, it was exciting to learn about role models that looked like me. Hopefully this will change for the generations to come. I think everyone could benefit from learning about more diverse topics in history to gain more insight into the human race.
At a recent townhall Dan Labbad, our CEO at The Crown Estate, talked about building on the shoulders of those that have come before us; I see Black History Month as a key time for this, providing a platform to gain a deeper understanding of what black people contributed to the UK, reflect on how far we have come and how much more we can achieve. Black History Month is not only a time to celebrate well known heroes and role models but also many unsung heroes, I have highlighted two that are very close to me, from my hometown in Wolverhampton:
My friend’s grandfather, the late Mr Johnson, served for Britain in World War II. It took many years for his contribution to be recognised along with 600,000 black soldiers he served with. In the lead up to Remembrance Sunday, keep an eye out for black poppies that were designed to commemorate their war effort.
My Godmother, Mrs Henriques, was awarded an MBE in 2018 for outstanding services to the community. She came to the UK at the same time as my grandparents and they, along with other friends, set up the West Midlands Caribbean Parents and Friends Association in 1958 to support those who had recently emigrated to the UK from Jamaica. They continue to support the local community today with social welfare programmes and cultural, educational and recreational events with the aim of empowering local people.
I truly hope the momentum behind Black History Month, this year, continues beyond
the month itself and, the world more readily recognises the unique contribution black
people and other people of colour bring to communities, workplaces and society as a
whole. I’d like to see more people of colour join the property industry to ensure the
places we create appropriately serve and reflect the communities they are built
within, creating lasting positive change and, building further on the shoulders of those
that have come before us.
Written by BWRE member - Nicole Campbell, Asset Manager at The Crown Estate
Photo key L-R
Volunteering at The West Midlands Caribbean Parents & Friends Afternoon Tea with a Caribbean twist; Photos from a recent trip to Jamaica - Bob Marley statue in Kingston, Usain
Bolt’s Tracks and Records restaurant (Montego Bay) and a poster from our family reunion; Mary Seacole statue at Westminster Bridge; Black Poppy image; Mrs Henriques MBE ceremony