Great Black Britons competition

children with pens and paperBrixton’s Black Cultural Archives are backing a national competition launched by the 100 Great Black Britons campaign and supported by Britain’s biggest teachers’ organisation, the New Education Union (NEU).

Patrick Vernon
Patrick Vernon

Organiser Patrick Vernon OBE, Lambeth council’s independent advisor for equality and diversity, said that, in the light of the COVID-19 crisis and with many schools closed, the campaign is launching a fun and educational activity to do with children at home.

“It’s an engaging way to teach children at home about Black British History and how it helped shape our country,” he said.

“Alone or in a group, they need to create a unique and exciting way to celebrate Great Black Britons. Parents, families, and young people can get involved in the competition and share their ideas, their knowledge and be creative.”

People are also being encouraged to upload their own resources to the campaign website.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “The current crisis has highlighted the centrality of Black people in Britain, to the NHS and care work, transport systems, food supplies, utilities, research, education and so much more.

“The NEU supports this competition to celebrate what we have always known that Britain’s history is irrefutably rooted in Black and global history and that our members do a fantastic job in teaching this.

“It will be a fabulous opportunity to showcase some of their work and that of their pupils.”

Competition entrants can work on their own or as “virtual” teams with friends and family, said Niparun Nessa, a secondary teacher and equalities campaigner.

“To help we are adding teaching resources to 100 Great Black Britons website to support home schooling, and we are inviting people to add their own resources to share with others,” she said.

“Teaching about our history, equality and diversity to promote a fully inclusive atmosphere in schools should be embedded into daily life in schools.

“The goal is always to celebrate festivals and events such as Black History Month, to highlight and embrace our community, and not to make up for what is often forgotten and overlooked.”

Patrick Vernon launched the first 100 Great Black Britons campaign16 years ago to ensure the history and achievements of Black people in Britain are noted and remembered.

Arike Oke, head of BCA
Arike Oke

Arike Oke, managing director of the Black Cultural Archives, said: “Black history is Britain goes as far back as it’s possible to go.

“Children growing up in modern Britain should know their true history and, whether they are Black, brown or white, Black history is part our of national story.

“Resources on the 100 Great Black Britons site can be used by families, parents, guardians and carers to help children understand themselves and their wider history.

“This is central to Black Cultural Archives’ purpose, so we’re very pleased to contribute to this great resource.”

The objectives of the competition are to:

  • Encourage children and young people to be innovative and creative
  • Promote and develop an awareness and appreciation of diversity, citizenship, inclusion and respect for all
  • Help children and young people learn more about Black British history
  • Encourage young people take a pride in their heritage, to which their ancestors have contributed, and assisted in the development of modern Britain.

The competition is in four sections: pre-school; under-16; young people; and teachers.

Parents or guardians of pre-school children who want to enter can upload a picture of their children dressed up as their Black heroes or a drawing that their children have done, representing their favourite Black Britons.

Prizes will include a £50 voucher for books and learning materials that will go to the nursery of the winner’s choice.

Children under 16 can use campaign resources available online and look at the biographies of Great Black Britons nominated on

They can choose one or several Great Black Britons and create an innovative project to celebrate their work and legacy. This could be a presentation, display, or any other way of promoting the stories of Great Black Britons, including social media campaigns, website designs and posters.

Prizes will include vouchers and black/multicultural educational resources (books, games, software) to the school of the winner’s choice with values ranging from £150 for key stage 1 to £400 for key stage 4 entrants.

In the young people (16 to 25) section, organisers will be looking for an exciting and insightful essay, podcast or video on Black British identity and heritage. There are prizes of vouchers worth £500 for the school of the winner and £300 for the runner-up.

There will be a special award for teachers who design lesson plans and resource materials to support pupils taking part in the competition.

The competition closes at the end of September 2020.

Details here