Brixton campaigner wins historic pledge on Black history teaching

portrait of woman
Ife Thompson

The founder of a South London project to advance Black learning and wellbeing has won a commitment from the London Assembly to support the teaching of Black history for 12 months a year.

Barrister Ife Thompson, a Brixton resident, is a community activist, Black history expert and former external Black history moderator for Lambeth schools.

She was also the 2020 United Nation fellow (representative) in the UK for the UN International Decade for Persons of African Descent, which runs from 2015 to 2024. Its theme is: People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.

In this role, Thompson worked with the UK London Assembly – the elected body for London government – with the support of assembly member Jennette Arnold OBE, to promote the policies of the UN decade.

One of the results was the unanimous agreement of the London Assembly yesterday (4 February) to a motion that calls on London mayor Sadiq Khan to to work with schools and community organisations to ensure that the educational histories and narratives of Black people are properly taught and celebrated in schools across London all year round.

The assembly is the first UK local government body to back the aims of the UN decade.

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Jennette Arnold

Proposing the motion, Arnold urged the mayor “to formally mark the United Nations International Decade for Peoples of African Descent and embed its recommendations into his wider policies.”

Thompson said: “The Decade is a timely and unique opportunity to underline the important contribution made by people of African descent to our societies and to propose concrete measures to promote equality and to combat discrimination of any kind.

Full text what the London assembly agreed 

Ife Thompson has founded two civil society organisations – BLAM UK – a not-for-profit company based in Battersea that provides educational, advocacy and wellbeing support for Black people – and Black Protest Legal Support UK a hub of lawyers willing to provide free support to Black Lives Matter activists.

BLAM recently launched an educational app that allows users to create “augmented reality” statues and plaques honouring Black historical figures.

In October last year Thompson was nominated for the Criminal Justice Alliance Outstanding Individual of the Year award for her work in making the criminal justice system a fairer place.

Also a Black history expert, she is a guest curator for the Huntley and Friends Archives – part of the London Metropolitan Archives – and has spoken at Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives.