We are coming to the end of Black History Month, a time for our community to come together and learn vital lessons for our future, celebrate black history and stand strong against racism.
There are so many amazing figures both past and present within our Black community in Medway who deserve more recognition than they currently receive.
Medway Labour and Co-operative Councillor Siju Adeoye asked a question at the recent Full Council, dedicated to the work of Asquith Xavier. She asked the Leader of the Council the following;
At July’s full council meeting, the Conservatives voted down a motion put forward by Cllr Adeoye to include the community in a cross-party working group on reviewing the names of monuments and sites across Medway, in favour of one exclusively including elected representatives.
The group agreed to recommend to Cabinet that the Sir John Hawkins Carpark be renamed, which incidentally came as graffiti appeared on the signs at site referencing the Conservative Council Leader, Alan Jarrett’s use of the phrase ‘lynch mob’ to describe Black Lives Matter Movements at the July Full Council meeting.
Councillor Adeoye, who has been a phenomenal voice in Medway’s Black Lives Matter movement as well as the campaign to change the name of the Sir John Hawkins’ carpark, said that;
We're bidding for the City of Culture and how does that look if we're still glorifying slave traders or people involved in mass killings and atrocities? Cllr Siju Adeoye
‘We’re bidding for the City of Culture and how does that look if we’re still glorifying slave traders or people involved in mass killings and atrocities? However we move forward is important and what we do will affect the next generation.
‘The language we use as Councillors and indeed the ideas we present, are important. As we come to the end of Black History Month, it’s important we reflect on these ideas and decide how we wish to present the diversity, inclusivity and multiculturalism of Medway to our future society.’
The Labour party will always seek to not only celebrate black history, but stand up for racial injustices in our society. Whilst it was unfortunately voted down, Medway Labour Group recently presented motion to Full Council asking for the Cabinet to commit to working towards the development of a school curriculum that includes appropriate focus and exploration of Black History and the history of ethnic minority people, which at present is sadly lacking.
As we come to the end of Black History Month, the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group members will be striving to continue to educate ourselves about Black history, heritage and culture, from the untold stories from our community to the day-to-day reality of institutional racism.
As our National Labour Party Leader, Sir Keir Starmer said; ‘Our nation’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths and we should celebrate that at every opportunity. I say thank you to all those in the Black community for helping make our country what it is today.’