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Barking dad launches petition calling for museum about black British history

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 November 2020

Orall Cornelius has set up a petition calling for the creation of a museum dedicated to black British history. Picture: Orall Cornelius

Orall Cornelius has set up a petition calling for the creation of a museum dedicated to black British history. Picture: Orall Cornelius

Orall Cornelius

A dad from Barking has launched a petition calling for a museum focusing on black British history to be set up.

Orall Cornelius said that the “time was right” to take action in a year that featured global Black Lives Matter protests, the removal of statues linked to the slave trade and concern about the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds.

And after finding out pupils in his daughter’s sixth form class could identify just one in 10 key figures during a Black History Month task, he emphasised the importance of making sure the issue was not ignored for the rest of the year.

He said: “Each year in the UK there is one month dedicated to black history.

“For some, this is the only time they encounter the topic.

“The new museum plans to make real the history of black Britons all year round.

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“The petition calls for a space in the capital where visitors can immerse in black history, be inspired by the stories and be a positive springboard for change.”

The idea of a museum isn’t a new one - Orall explained he had first brought up the idea back in 2014 when he wrote a letter to Boris Johnson, then the Mayor of London.

While sitting in a primary school assembly during Black History Month that year, the dad-of-two felt that, although there are museums of natural history, science and war, a museum of black history was missing in London.

Orall’s aim is for a place “where young people could see the stories and be inspired to make things different”.

He highlighted the National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, as an example of what could be achieved.

“I’d love to visit there,” he said. “There’s a slavery museum in Liverpool that I’ve been to, part of the maritime museum, but it would be good to have something that showed the positive side as well.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport did not respond to a request for comment.

To sign the petition, visit petition.parliament.uk/petitions/329371


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