Skip to main content

Celebrating Black History Month

Details: Written by Kate Hutchinson |

5 black pioneers who shaped education past and present

What is Black History Month?

The UK first started celebrating Black History Month in 1987, a month dedicated to celebrating the continued achievements and contributions of Black people in the UK. Black History Month is also a time for continued action to tackle racism, reclaim Black history, and ensure Black history is represented and celebrated all year round.

To celebrate this month, we’ve been reflecting on the impact of several Black pioneers who have shaped education over the years. Their accomplishments and contributions highlight the great progress that has been made, but also serves as a reminder of how far we have yet to go to achieve true equity and representation in education.

5 black pioneers who shaped education, past and present

  1. Carlotta Walls LaNier

    At age 14, Carlotta was the youngest of the nine black students known as the ‘Little Rock Nine’ who famously integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Carlotta remains active in numerous community organisations and serves as the President of the Little Rock Nine Foundation, a financial aid and mentoring service dedicated to ensuring equal access to education for black children.

  1. Lavinya Stennet

    Lavinya founded The Black Curriculum in 2019 to address the lack of Black British history in the UK Curriculum. The social enterprise’s programmes are for all young people aged 8-16 and aims to equip young people with a sense of identity, and the tools for a diverse landscape.

  1. Mary McLeod Bethune

    Mary McLeod Bethune was a civil rights activist and passionate education pioneer. Bethune created a school that gave the opportunity for education to many young black women. Bethune-Cookman College, was one of the few places where African Americans could get a degree. She gave advice to several US presidents on the welfare of children and minority affairs. Mary’s contribution to education and civil rights was immortalised when she appeared on a stamp in 1985!

  1. Malorie Blackman

    You might have heard of the bestselling book series- Noughts & Crosses. The author, Malorie Blackman wanted to “make reading irresistible” for young people and works with various organisations to encourage reading and literacy in children of all ages. In 2013, Blackman was chosen as the eighth Children’s Laureate, and the first ever black person to honour the role.

  1. Inez Beverly Prosser

    Born in 1897, Inez Beverly Prosser was one of the first black women to ever receive a PhD and used hers in Education Psychology to study the effects of segregated schooling. Whilst completing her studies, Inez Beverly Prosser also established a fund that allowed all 10 of her siblings to complete high school and 6 of them to finish college.

How can you celebrate Black History Month?

There are so many ways you can educate yourself and support during and beyond Black History Month. Small adjustments and actions in our own lives can make a big difference.

Below are just a few suggestions:

  • Donate to a charity dedicated to Black or ethnic minority backgrounds
  • Challenge discrimination and racism in your everyday life
  • Purchase, read and share books by Black authors
  • Support Black owned businesses

Black History Month captures the greatest achievements of the Black community and individuals who have been forces of change throughout the years. Here at The Skills Network, we are committed to championing, celebrating and supporting greater inclusion for all throughout the world.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Martin Luther King Jr.

If you want to know more about Black History Month, click here