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From Rhodes to Rosa

12 October 2020

Nineteenth-century colonialism and twenty-century segregation are just some of the topics under discussion in Westminster City School history classes at present.

As Black History Month shines a light on the outstanding contributions that people of African and Caribbean descent have had on our world, our young people have been exploring the experiences of some very different historical figures in their history classes.

Year 11 pupils have been looking at Cecil Rhodes, the controversial British mining magnate, and politician who many now criticise as a ruthless imperialist and white supremacist. Our pupils were discussing his motivations in expanding the British Empire across Africa and his belief that the Anglo-Saxon race was superior, looking at how this relates to Social Darwinism (the idea that certain people become powerful in society because they are innately better).

Alongside this, Year 10 pupils have been studying the Montgomery Bus Boycott that saw African Americans refuse to ride city buses as a protest against segregated seating. Beginning in December 1955, after the African American woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested and fined for refusing to yield her bus seat to a white man, the Montgomery Bus Boycott is now regarded as the first large-scale US demonstration against segregation.

Ms Slater, Subject Leader History, said: “Our pupils have been enjoying learning more and thinking critically about these different moments in our world history. While, at Westminster City School, we don’t limit our study of black history to just October, these topics are particularly relevant to Black History Month. In addition to these GCSE pupils’ study, our Year 8 cohort will shortly also study individuals in South Africa, Britain and the United States who have protested successfully for black civil rights.”

Black History Month, which runs every October, is an annual celebration of the achievements by people of African and Caribbean descents. and a time to recognise their role in our history.

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