Black History Wales press release: Mrs Betty Campbell MBE Monument

Late Black History Wales Patron, Mrs Betty Campbell MBE leads the way as first named Welsh woman to have a statue in Wales.

We are delighted to announce that the unveiling of the Betty Campbell Monument, our late Black History Wales Patron will take place in Cardiff, at 11 am on Wednesday 29 September 2021. 

Designed and created by Eve Shepherd, the first public statue of a named Welsh woman came after a Hidden Heroines campaign asked the public to vote for who they would wish to see immortalised from a shortlist of five historical Welsh women. 

Thousands of votes were cast and Betty Campbell was chosen. 

Born in Cardiff in 1934, from a Welsh Mother and Jamaican Father, Elizabeth Campbell became a school teacher in 1963. In the early 1970s, Betty raised her profile by becoming the nation’s first black Head Teacher with her post at Mount Stuart Primary in Butetown. 

She was also becoming known outside of Wales as an important authority on education and a leading academic. 

Her contribution to the world of education was noted when later she was invited to be part in the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Commission on Education. The commission produced many papers on education including the well-received book ‘Learning to Succeed’, which included examples of excellent practice at Mount Stuart Primary School. 

Pupils who attended Mount Stuart Primary under Betty’s guidance soon discovered that every month was Black History Month as the curriculum included wherever possible,references to and examples of Black people’s experiences and positive contribution to British society.

Betty herself has said: “When I was a head in my school I looked at Black History, the Caribbean, Africa and slavery and the effects. That was just a junior school. But there were people that said, ‘You should not be teaching that’. But why not? It happened. Children should be made aware. 

Even now I have ex-pupils in their 60s saying, ‘Thanks for the Black History that you taught us’. What should come out is that you can eventually rise up from these depths.”

It’s no coincidence that a number of children left Mount Stuart with a reading age of 13 and above. 

This surely shows that when we engage and empower children, we inculcate a sense of belonging and significance, they can go onto succeed.

During the 1980s Betty became a member of the Board of BBC Wales, overseeing editorial and production issues. In 2003, Betty was made an honorary fellow of UWIC for services to education and community life, for which she was also awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. 

Betty has also stirred up local politics representing Butetown for both Labour and as an independent. She was anexceptional community activist who tirelessly dedicated her life to the education of young people, continuing to be anactive advocate for the people of Butetown even after her retirement, continuing to run her Saturday classes for local young people and planning workshops for Black History Month. 

In 2015, Betty was presented with her lifetime achievement award by Kebba Manneh, chair of Unison Cymru Wales’ Black Members Group, for her lifetime contribution to Black History in Education in Wales.

It’s been said that Black History Month in the UK, can be traced back to trips, class assemblies and workshops organised by Mrs Campbell in 1973. Forging the way ahead for Black History Wales 365, where Black History is taught and celebrated not just annually, but throughout the year.

 

Judge Ray Singh CBE Chair of Race Council Cymru said: ” A worthy tribute to an outstanding Welsh woman, whose legacy lives on in all who were privileged to know her. Black History must continue to be supported and embedded in Welsh curriculum and included as a key part of Welsh History as part of Mrs Campbell’s legacy”.

 

Geraldine Trotman, Black History Patron for Wales said: “This news is the happiest news of my life and tomorrow which is the day we unveil the statue will be the happiest day of my life. I am so proud of Betty, this is one of the greatest moments for us, all of us in Butetown, all of us in Wales. Betty was family and I have such fond memories of her. She was a champion for every single one of us in the Black History movement and a real champion for all the people of Wales. Betty spoke, whenever she spoke, she reached into the heart of whoever was speaking, no matter who they were, she could speak to the high and she could speak to the low and this was special about Betty she embodied Black History, she talked about Black History, she wanted to see the survival of Black History. Betty was a Tiger Bay girl, a tower of strength for many of us who continued to fight against injustices of racial inequality. She engaged with people of all walks of life and Betty, was born in Tiger Bay, and stayed in Tiger Bay and tomorrow, we will have her installed in the town centre where people will never forget the legacy of Betty Campbell. Rest in peace Betty. We love you.

 

Professor Uzo Iwobi OBE, Black History Wales Representative & Founder of Race Council Cymru said: “I am absolutely delighted to see this day when Mrs Betty Campbell MBE our much beloved Black History Wales Patron’s statue is erected and installed in its prestigious place here in the heart of Cardiff. This is such a worthy tribute to an outstanding Black woman of Wales who led the way for embedding Black History in Welsh schools starting from her school at Mount Stuart School Cardiff. From the moment Mrs Campbell died in October 2017 during Black History Month, I was interviewed by BBC Radio journalist and I was asked what I thought would be a befitting tribute, without hesitation, I said, it would be wonderful to have Betty Campbell’s statue erected in Wales and I am heartened that the people of Wales collectively voted to confirm Mrs Betty Campbell’s statue to be the first woman’s statue to be erected in Wales. In erecting this statue, Wales has shown that this Black woman truly matters to us all.”

For further information, please contact Lisa Gardener, Marketing & Communications Manager for Race Council Cymru & Black History Wales on 077863 77064 or [email protected]

Alternative contacts –

Uzo Iwobi OBE, Black History Wales Representative, Founder of Race Council Cymru, 078383 60979

Kay Denyer, Director, Race Council Cymru – [email protected]

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