Happy Black History Month 2015- Day 13 Ertharin Cousin​

Ertharin Cousin​

Executive Director, World Food Programme, United Nations

Ertharin Cousin​ is responsible for bringing food to more than 100 million people around the world every year as head of the U.N.’s World Food Programme. Her goal is nothing short of eradicating global hunger in our lifetimes, creating a world where no child or adult knows the feeling of an empty stomach.

As the leader of the world’s largest humanitarian organization with approximately 13,500 staff serving more than 90 million beneficiaries in 80 countries across the world, she works to improve the lives of hungry people worldwide, and travels extensively to raise awareness of food insecurity and chronic malnutrition

As a young girl growing up in a lower-income neighborhood in​ Chicago, Ertharin Cousin understood from an early age the importance of a family’s ability to put food on the table. That innate conscience and connection with the plight of others continues to fuel her sense of mission.

Copy taken from Time Magazine and UN website.

Happy Black History Month 2015 Day 12- Inspiring women leaders from around the world



Who are these women you may ask?

These are just four of the prime ministers from the Caribbean and Africa. We are proud to have such women leading these countries and paving the way for future women leaders around the world.

From top to bottom we have:

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller

Senegalese Prime Minister Aminata Touré

Central African republic President Catherine Samba-Panza

Trinidad’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Muriel Strode

How can you be a leader today?

Happy black history month day 11 George the Poet


George the Poet is a British spoken word poetic artist with an interest in social and political issues.

Born to Ugandan parents in NW London he went on to study politics, psychology and sociology at Cambridge University, where he decided to adapt his rap output into poetry to communicate more effectively with his audience.
Mpanga said, “I think rappers are primarily expected to make money for the industry and provide party soundtracks, but obviously there are exceptions and grey areas. The poet’s ‘role’ is usually to provide thoughtful social commentary”.

During his studies, Mpanga won a social enterprise competition, which asked entrants how they would spend £1,000. He used his £16,000 prize to fund The Jubilee Line, a series of secondary school poetry workshops for underprivileged children in London.

He performed at this year’s Brit awards after being nominated for several awards. He is currently touring the UK.

Here is his poem for black history month called ‘Pro Black’.

And another about Nelson Mandela:

Some others you might like are:

‘There are no choices without chances’- https://youtu.be/rOX1ETA0eUo
I have used this one to get students to think about where their lives are going.

‘Estate of mind’, a poem about having aspirations https://youtu.be/E2ops6bHlw8

‘Go home’, a poem about immigration in the UK. https://youtu.be/iWX48dHQgXo

Happy black history month day 10 Marlon James


Last night Jamaican Marlon James won the prestigious Man Booker prize for his book ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’.

The book was inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s. Find out more about the story here https://youtu.be/CDPf2dPzqdQ. Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described A Brief History of Seven Killings as the “most exciting” book on the shortlist.

The 680-page epic was “full of surprises” as well as being “very violent” and “full of swearing”.

James was announced the £50,000 winner on Tuesday night at London’s Guildhall.

He is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize. Receiving the award, he said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music.
(copy taken from BBC website.)


Here is a Bob song to finish this post- ‘Iron, Lion, Zion’ https://youtu.be/CDPf2dPzqdQ.

Happy Black History Month day 9 Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

dr magg


Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a space scientist that lives in London. She has designed a host of space instruments, and presented the tv programme the Sky at Night.

Born in London to Nigerian parents in the late sixties, she moved between 13 schools during her childhood, struggling to show her potential in the face of what she later recognised as dyslexia. It was her dream of space travel that provided the motivation in those difficult years.

After graduating with a BSc in physics, and later a PhD in mechanical engineering, from Imperial College London, she worked for the Ministry of Defence on projects ranging from missile warning systems to landmine detectors, before returning to her first love: building instruments to explore the wonders of space. “The telescope is just mind boggling,” she says of the Gemini instruments, her voice abuzz with her trademark fervour. “I like to call it a cathedral to science because sometimes I go out to Guildford Cathedral and [it has] this big vaulted ceiling. It is large and echoey, and the telescope is just the same.”

Dr Aderin-Pocock is passionate about more girls becoming scientists:

“There aren’t enough people going into science, especially girls,” says Aderin-Pocock. “The structure of the UK is changing. We used to be a manufacturing society, but most manufacturing can be done elsewhere and more cheaply. We’ve become a knowledge economy but to have that, we need to have people coming through with ideas. It’s a matter of getting science out there and showing the difference we can make in people’s lives.”

You can learn more about her here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo5hVIhSL4o

Happy Black History Month 2015 day 7 Yinka Shobinare


Yinka ShonibareMBE, (born 1962) is a British-Nigerian artist living in London. His work explores cultural identity and colonialism. A hallmark of his art is the brightly coloured fabric he uses. Having a physical disability that paralyses one side of his body, Shonibare uses assistants to make works under his direction.


One of his most famous works was on a plinth in trafalgar square, entitled “Nelson’s ship in a bottle”. Learn more about it here https://youtu.be/voEgrnPqKxo


Happy black history day 6 Baroness Patricia Scotland


Baroness Scotland was the first woman to become attorney general when she was appointed by Gordon Brown in 2007.

The tenth of 12 children, she was born Patricia Scotland on the Caribbean island of Dominica in 1955. Her family moved to Walthamstow, east London, when she was three years old.

Baroness Scotland went to school in London and Essex and went on to study law at the University of London.

She became the first black woman to be a made a QC in 1991 before becoming the first black female government minister.

As a lawyer she specialised in family and public law – in particular cases involving child abuse, mental health and housing.

Happy Black History Month day 5 Leyla Hussain



Leyla Hussein is a trained Psychotherapist and a multi-award winning campaigner on FGM and gender rights including Cosmopolitan Ultimate Campaigner Women of the Year Award 2010. In 2011 she won the Emma Humphrey Award , The Lin Groves Special Award for her work in raising awareness of violence against women and children.

She co-founded Daughters Of Eve who are working to protect girls and young women at risk from FGM.

Leyla Hussein is also a Community facilitator at Manor Gardens, where she now runs Dahlia Project which she set up in 2013, the only counselling service for FGM survivors in the UK. Her documentary “The Cruel Cut” with Channel 4 on FGM in the UK was nominated for a Bafta in 2014.

You can learn more about Leyla’s documentary here https://youtu.be/2lmaZ8FJvOE

For an explanation of FGM, please watch this short video by Leyla https://youtu.be/H1JAfpHf4uY

She successfully lobbied at a political level and her e-petition ‘Stop FGM in the UK Now’ gathered over 100,000 signatures, triggering a much needed debate in Parliament on FGM in the UK. She was subsequently called in to give evidence at the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into the matter.

Happy Black History Month 2015 day 4 Chrisann Jarett


Chrisann Jarret is a Law student at the London School of Economics. She set up a campaign called ‘Let us Learn’ and was awarded a ‘Young Woman of the Year’ award earlier this year.

In summer 2013, having just scored top grades in her A levels and having been offered a place at the prestigious London School of Economics to study Law, Chrisann Jarrett, was suddenly hit with the reality that she wasn’t actually eligible for a student loan and therefore wouldn’t be able to take up her place.

Although she was born in Jamaica, Chrisann, had been living in the UK since the age of eight and was a legal resident, so the idea that she was not eligible for a student grant came as a huge shock. Unfortunately, changes to immigration rules introduced in 2011 meant that young people who have discretionary leave to remain in the UK, rather than indefinite leave, are not regarded as home students with access to loans. They have to pay significantly
higher international fees, sometimes almost double.

Heartbroken and forced to take a gap year, while she figured out her next move, Chrisann ended up doing an internship at a law firm. While there, she noticed there were a lot of other young people who had the same immigration issue. “All of us were afraid to speak out because of the whole stigma attached to immigration,” she says. “But I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to put myself out there’.”

She says: “At first I was ashamed of the situation. I looked at it like ‘Me? Having a problem with immigration, even though I have legal status?’ I remember going to an interview with a journalist and being asked to take my picture, and thinking: ‘I don’t want people in my borough knowing I’ve got this issue.’

“But it was the best thing I could have ever done as that’s what put the campaign on the map and got the ball rolling.

In January 2014, Chrisann founded the Let Us Learn campaign, which fights for policy change to the rules regarding student finance. It also seeks to raise awareness for young people who don’t realise that this could be an issue for them, for parents who don’t know where to get information, and to generally break down the stigma attached to the issue.

The campaign started off with just four young people working on it. Under Chrisann’s astute leadership, this has grown to 50.

In terms of impact, Let Us Learn has been instrumental in a Supreme Court case that will eventually lead to a change in the law. The court found that the blanket exclusionary rule preventing anyone except UK citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK from applying for student loans was disproportionate and could not be justified. The ruling will change the lives of thousands of young men and women.

Due to her campaign efforts, Chrisann was shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights award in 2014 and awarded the Young Woman of the Year award in early 2015. The latter was courtesy of Women on the Move Awards, which works with the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency).

Copy taken from The Future Leaders- The Power list.

Happy Black History Month 2015 day 3: Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a Somali-British poet who lives in London. She is the first Young Poet Laureate for London.


She writes movingly on many topics but particularly on migration.  Recently I was struck by the poem below, written from the perspective of someone on the run, particularly in light of the Syrian refugee crisis. Read and learn or watch and listen here: https://youtu.be/BjS1oN58Osc .


no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled 
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between 
your legs
or the insults are easier 
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you 
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.