Malorie Blackman Calls For Schools To Teach Black History Year-Round

History lessons should tell "the whole truth" of the British Empire, says the celebrated author.

Author Malorie Blackman Calls For Black British History To Be Taught Year-Round
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Malorie Blackman, the popular British author of children’s series Noughts & Crosses, has called on schools to teach Black history all year round, and not simply as part of specific months, like Black History Month. The 60-year-old laureate told the BBC: “If you're talking about the history of Britain, then that history includes Black people and people of colour.”

Throughout the interview, she insists that history lessons should tell “the whole truth” of the British Empire, especially its significant role in the transatlantic slave trade. At the moment, schools in the country are not mandated to teach any Black history, Blackman notes, and so adding this to the curriculum would support people standing up against racism.

All too often people pushing for anti-racism in education are wrongly accused of “race-baiting” and the author says it’s time to include these essential narratives, even if they make some people uncomfortable as its necessary in creating systemic change. “My [ancestors’] history did not start with slavery. Black people have been in this country since Roman times, if not before,” she explains.

By introducing these stories at an early stage in schooling, Blackman says that this could perhaps reduce the number of times a Black person is told to “go back to where you came from” when they flag discrimination or prejudice. This year, schools in Wales began including histories of people from ethnic minorities; the author suggests other parts of UK must follow suit.

While the Department for Education in England has not responded to Blackman’s comments as of yet, it has stated the current curriculum gives teachers the flexibility to include Black voices. The Scottish education systems also says its curriculum gives the space to teach Black history year-round.

Blackman’s memoir, Just Sayin’: My Life In Words, has been published this month by Stormzy’s publishing house Merky Books. The British rapper appeared in the BBC adaptation of Noughts & Crosses alongside Jack Rowan, Masali Baduza, and Helen Baxendale. And in a rather sweet full circle moment, Blackman appeared in Stormzy’s music video for “Mel Made Me Do It.”

For decades, the author has used her stories to explore race and identity in children’s books but she believes there’s still a long way to go. “We still need more books from the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities, working-class authors, and books from and about neurodivergent children,” she said.