Cherry Groce teaching programme – understanding the past, building a better future

The Cherry Groce memorial in Brixton’s Windrush Square

The Louder I Will Sing, a pioneering education programme, launches in schools across London today (28 September).

It has been created by the Cherry Groce Foundation to give a voice to victims of injustices in the past and to promote restorative justice for future generations.

The launch coincides with the 37th anniversary of the shooting of Cherry Groce in Brixton by the Metropolitan Police in 1985.

The community “rose up in protest to the institutional racism and systemic injustice faced by Britain’s black community,” the foundation said.

A young photographer, David Hodge, received injuries during the disturbances in Brixton from which he died.

The first school to run the programme is Lilian Baylis Technology School (LBTS) in Kennington.

Plans for the programme, which is based on the story of Cherry Groce, to be taught in secondary schools across London are under way with wider, national coverage envisaged.

A training package to support the programme has been developed for teachers of students in years 7-9 as part of the personal, social, health and economic curriculum.

 “We are so proud to have been chosen by the Cherry Groce Foundation to be one of the first schools to take part in their education programme,” said LBTS head teacher Karen Chamberlain.

“As a Lambeth community school, it is so important that our students learn from our local history, both to honour Cherry Groce and to empower them as future advocates and allies in the pursuit of justice.”

portrait of man
Lee Lawrence

Lee Lawrence, the chair of the Cherry Groce Foundation and son of Cherry Groce who, at the age of 11, witnessed his mother’s shooting said: “My mother believed in the power of education and truth. The launch of this programme is testament to her deeply held conviction that education can change lives, build communities and bring opportunities to all.”

The Louder I Will Sing programme will use the Cherry Groce story as a platform to teach students about the historical and cultural challenges and adversities that the Windrush Generation experienced.

It will highlight the racial tensions with the police, the abuse of power by institutions, and will introduce the concept of restorative justice and the benefits it can deliver in providing peaceful solutions in society.

Additional interactive lessons have been designed to teach students about specific events such as the New Cross Fire in 1981 and the events leading up to the 1981 and 1985 Brixton Uprisings.

Valerie Laville, head of education at the Cherry Groce Foundation, said: “As a teacher with over two decades of experience in schools and other youth settings, I recognise the importance of dedicated programmes that can empower young people through a journey of exploration and experience.

“The Louder I Will Sing provides a pathway to understand our past and to build a better future.”