Copies of a landmark book which honours the achievements of Black people throughout history are now being delivered to schools in Wolverhampton – including one its author used to go to.
100 Great Black Britons, by Patrick Vernon and Dr Angelina Osborne, celebrates the lives, stories, achievements and contributions of key Black British individuals over history. Among those featured are pioneering nurse and heroine of the Crimean War Mary Seacole, artist and film director Steve McQueen, rapper Stormzy, Booker prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, Formula One megastar Lewis Hamilton, comedian Lenny Henry and Wolverhampton singing sensation Beverley Knight.
The City of Wolverhampton Council and the Wolverhampton, Bilston and District Trades Union Council have supported a national campaign by Yvonne Davis, a retired primary school headteacher from Wolverhampton, to get books into every school in Britain by purchasing a copy for each of the city's schools and libraries. Among those to have received a copy is Colton Hills Community School, where Pennfields-born author, broadcaster and social commentator Patrick Vernon was once a pupil.
He said: "It is a fantastic honour that the City of Wolverhampton Council has acquired copies of the best-selling 100 Great Black Britons for all schools and libraries in Wolverhampton.
"I am proud of my roots in Wolverhampton, and I hope the book and my achievements will inspire young people that they can make a difference with their lives and be proud of our shared history. I am hoping to go back to Colton Hills, and also my primary school Grove Junior, during Black History Month so I can share my work with pupils."
Headteacher Andrea Stephens said: “Colton Hills is an incredibly diverse school, and it’s one of the reasons that it is such a special place to learn. Books like this help highlight some of the most pioneering Black Britons who have achieved and helped shape our history as a result.
“It is incredibly empowering to see that one of the authors was a student at Colton Hills, which is a great way to illustrate to our children that, through hard work and resilience, they too can do anything and shape this world for the better. We are really proud to be part of this initiative and look forward to using the book for many years to come.”
Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "100 Great Black Britons is an important investigation into the role Black Britons have played in our island’s history over the past one thousand years and brings both well-known and unjustly neglected figures vividly to life.
“We hope that, by making this book available in our schools and libraries, readers of all ages will enjoy discovering more about the impact that 100 very important individuals have had, and continue to have, on British history.”
Nick Kelleher, Secretary of Wolverhampton, Bilston and District Trades Union Council, added: "100 Great Black Britons celebrates the continued legacy and achievements of Black people in Britain and given that Patrick Vernon is also a local role model, our delegates felt that this was a perfect campaign to undertake in Wolverhampton."