I have just submitted this motion to Devon County Council for the full council meeting on 23 July.
It was an absolute pleasure to work with the thoughtful and considered sixth form students at The Kings School, especially young BAME people, to create this motion.
The BLM movement appears to have triggered something very powerful and potentially very healing… and is in my view, an ideal time to address very many issues that will help resolve long-standing divisions.
The Kings’ School students plan to campaign on this and I am very much looking forward to working with them.
It will almost certainly be referred to the September cabinet and return to the October full council meeting.
Here’s the motion…. (apologies for the awful formatting, it went out of control!)……………………
This council welcomes the peaceful protests against the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, including those organised in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, Exeter and Plymouth – and the way these have brought to light how this much of this country’s wealth was built on slavery and other racial oppression.
This council acknowledges the recent further pain caused to the BAME community, by the Windrush Scandal.
This council acknowledges too, that the only way this deep historical wound can be healed is by people in high profile positions (especially politicians) proving that they are listening with compassion to the BAME community – and taking necessary action.
This Council resolves to pledge its support for the Black Lives Matter campaign by:
- Taking a lead among public organisations in Devon to seek out opportunities to promote and celebrate the work in Devon by BAME people, both in the past and currently.
- Inviting every Devon County councillor to:
- Show leadership and support for people of colour in Devon, individually supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, using whichever public platform they feel most comfortable with
- Speak with BAME people in their wards to determine what are the issues of concern for them – and take the necessary steps to resolve those issues
Writing to the Secretary of State for Education urging him to:
- Review the primary school, GCSE and A Level national curriculum with a view to ensuring that the historical record of the British Empire is treated in a way which fully takes account of slavery, the actions and views of historical figures and other oppressive experiences of BAME people, many of whose descendents are now part of our community.
- Show compassion and understanding by starting a national debate led by the BAME community, which seeks to define racism, the impacts of it in today’s society – and demonstrate how we can all help BAME people feel fully included and welcomed in the UK (this could be part of the current government review)
- Identify a cabinet minister champion for people of colour
- Inviting Devon town/parish/city councils to review any landmarks, street names or statues that implicitly celebrate slavery, with a view to replacing them or clarifying their history, such as the historical plaque in Exmouth for slave trader, John Colleton, who also has three streets named after him in Exeter