Black History Month at HGS

Today, perhaps more than ever, it is essential that we appreciate the rich history of all those who have contributed to our country’s narrative and achievements.  Our nations are knitted together through the interweaving of multiple voices, and part of the role of a historian is to amplify these voices by bringing them to the fore.

It is in this spirit that we have commemorated Black History Month at HGS in October.  Year 7 students have been involved in an extra-curricular competition to produce a graphic on a Black individual to showcase his/her importance. Some of our A-level history students judged the entries.  Well done to Matthew Fenwick in 7N for designing the winning entry, his work on Mary Seacole (1805-1881) is presented below.  In Year 8 students have been considering the role of Black people in Elizabethan England – their status and treatment in the sixteenth century is contested by historians but their presence and role is undeniable. Some Year 9 classes have been considering the features of pre-colonial Africa before investigating the slave trade and its abolition. We had some outstanding work on Africa as well as lots of creative pieces on the contribution of Black people to Victorian England – well done to those students whose pieces (below) are noteworthy.  Further examples of such work will be displayed in the History Department area.  All Year 9 students have written an essay on the abolition of slavery.  Here we emphasised the roles played by Black people in ending their slavery including Ouladah Equiano (who spoke at Birmingham Town Hall) and leaders like Toussaint L’Overture and Samuel Sharpe.  The use of the Akala address at the Oxford Union provided a Black perspective to challenge white orthodoxy and its emphasis on William Wilberforce.  The work of Wilberforce was also celebrated by our students as an example of powerful interests using their influence to exact justice for all.  Moreover, Year 13 historians have been doing an in-depth study into the actions of African American groups and leaders to campaign for civil rights from 1865 to 1992 in the USA, and this is also an opportunity to reflect on current campaigns such as Black Lives Matter and set them in historical context.  Mrs Harvey’s whole-school activities mainly delivered through form time to recognise and celebrate the work of interesting and seminal Black individuals helped to complement our curricular work in the department.

Commemorating Black History Month has been important and very valuable to us but at the same time we realise that this is a subject that needs to be embedded in our curriculum throughout the year.  We are, therefore, able to announce the launching of a new Year 8 module known as African Kingdoms.  This has been researched, planned, and will be led by Mrs Yates for the whole department to benefit in the second half of the academic year.  Here we will investigate the richness and depth of several of the kingdoms of pre-colonial West Africa – these unique societies and achievements will allow all of us to look back in order to move forward in what is the diverse story of our world.

The History Department

Year 7 Black History Competition Winninng Piece by Matthew Fenwick (7N)

Notable Year 9 Work by Abhijay Banger 9A, Mohammed Ali Mirza 9G, Muhammad-Taha Zaman 9G