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Leicester to Bristol: reclaiming the dream

Edwina Buenor
23rd January 2019

On the weekend of the 16th to 18th November a Leicester delegation of teachers attended the Black Teachers' Conference. After an exhausting day of teaching, we left on Friday via mini bus to embark on a six-hour journey to Bristol. We were welcomed by a hearty meal accompanied by open mic. Our very own Linda Bradshaw made a debut with her own rendition of Nina Simone's 'Strange Fruit', which moved the audience.

Saturday started promptly at 9:00am with keynote speaker Ash Sarkar, journalist and academic (some of you may know her from famously stating that Obama's not my Hero - I'm a communist). Her inspiring speech focused on current issues affecting education. The day then consisted of various workshop, talks and events.

In the afternoon, many delegates took the opportunity to undertake a walk around Bristol where our guide Edson Burton informed us about Bristol's involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Delegates felt humbled by their new knowledge of Bristol's historical significance in Black history.

Later on, Daniel Kebede (Black Executive Seat holder) delivered an empowering speech on the Union's vision on future black leaders.

Delegates were then asked to listen and respond to the proposed motions. This was an opportunity to propose two motions that affect Black teachers in education, to take forward to be discussed and deliberated at National Conference.

Delegates were treated to a three-course sit down meal to celebrate the work and retirement of Roger King (National Executive).

The evening ended with entertainment from a DJ who ushered us into an evening of music and dancing.

Sunday opened with remarks from the President of the NEU, Kevin Courtney, who spoke passionately about creating more spaces for Black delegates in the Union and a voice in education. He also fervently touched on government funding and its detriment to our schools. Delegates were informed of the Bristol Bus Boycott and how this affected the local community.

Afterwards, Keynote speaker Fazia Shaheen, Director of CLASS, a research organisation dedicated to advancing social and economic policies, spoke passionately about austerity and its impact. A notable part of her speech highlighted the inequalities faced by disadvantaged pupils (particularly black students) and how this exacerbated by unconscious bias from teachers.

Conference ended at lunchtime. We left feeling empowered, inspired but exhausted.


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