Norwich MP joins calls for schools to teach slavery and colonialism
- Credit: Archant
A Norwich MP has joined calls for the national history curriculum to include the atrocities of British colonialism and the slave trade.
Labour MP Clive Lewis is part of a cross-party group calling for a re-evaluation of history education in the wake of international Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The Norwich South MP joined politician including Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas.
Mr Lewis told Sky News’ Adam Boulton: “Having a curriculum which broadly reflects the reality of British history in all its glory and its darker moments would be appreciated.
“A curriculum which showed the contribution that people around the world, the commonwealth and the empire, had contributed to this country.”
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He added: “Black History Month is optional. Very often slavery is a module that can be overlooked.
“It’s a bit easier to look at other countries, rather than looking at what it was we did during the empire and through slavery
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“There’s a process for all of us to learn It’s hard but we can come out of it in a better way. I don’t think ita about ramming anything down anyone’s throat.”
Mr Lewis’ comments followed the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
Protestors dumped the statue into the harbour, but the removal has been criticised by others who said Colston was a philanthropist.
Mr Lewis said: “It is very upsetting to hear people becoming so polarised on these issues.
“I think the case of Colston was quite clear cut, as someone who benefitted greatly from a horrific trade of slavery and put tens of thousands into decades if not centuries of slavery.”
The protests have sparked calls to reassess statues of other controversial figures, including Churchill, Lord Nelson and Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell.
Mr Lewis said: “The issue of Baden-Powell and Churchill is more controversial. As a country we need to understand history is complex, people are complex, that they operated within times where views which now would be widely condemned were acceptable.
“But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to understand why those views were around and appreciate them in their full context.
“By doing that we’re beginning to understand structural racism - social and economic levers and pulleys which affect peoples lives.
“That curriculum change would make us more enlightened.”