Schools debate: Black History Month

Key Points

  • Email with your contributions to the debate!
  • DEBATE POINT: What do you learn about 'Black History'? What do you think about it?
  • DEBATE POINT: Can sport have an impact on people's opinions about racial issues?

Join the discussion


    Greetings from BBC World Class!

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    Hello from World Class - just a quick note to say there's 15 minutes to go until our LIVE schools debate to mark Black History Month in the UK.

    Check out the films on the right, think about the debate points above, and we'll see you in 15 minutes.


    Hello and welcome to today's LIVE schools debate!

    If you're just joining us, now is the time to email with your thoughts about Black History Month.

    Need inspiration? Check out our debate points (above) and our films on the right.

    We want to know what you make of Black History Month. What does it mean to you?


    A warm World Class welcome to St. Cedd's School in Chelmsford, UK who have been learning about Martin Luther King!

    Alice, Holly, Lauren, Amelie, Rosie and Rhiannon write:

    "We were imagining that if he was a school inspector, what beliefs he would find we hold here at St. Cedd's. We made a brick wall where we wrote all our beliefs and displayed it in the classroom. We believe that in our school it doesn't matter what colour or what religion you are - everyone is equal. Martin Luther King has inspired us with his bravery, respectfulness and the beliefs he stood up for."

    Thanks for getting in touch St. Cedds! What do you learn about 'black history' at your school?


    A World Class hello to Danville Park Girls' School in Durban, South Africa!

    They've been thinking about our debate point about the effect sport can have on racial prejudice.

    Student Priyanka tells us: "Sport allows a person's achievement to be admired, based solely on their talent, passion and effort and not on the colour of their skin.

    "It opens the minds of those who believe in the superiority of races and teaches them skin colour has not effect on the ability of the person."

    Interesting thoughts from Priyanka - do you agree?


    Hello to Khaitan Public School in Sahibabad, India!

    Zinnia writes: "It 's not our colour that shows our identity. If something is there which shows our identity it is only our talent. She says that don't look on to a person by colour but by his/her talent and dedication towards any task. We should only be recognized by talent and achievements ."

    Thank you, Zinnia. Does anyone disagree with Zinnia? Do you think it is a good idea to focus on the achievements of a particular group in history?


    Hello to The Sagar School in Rajasthan, India, who have also been considering our debate points.

    Vinum, from Grade 9, tells us: "I feel sports can really have an impact on people's opinions about racial issues, because it is a field where people of every country compete.

    "Racial issues in terms of black people are very common, but as the people of the world watch how they are competing and winning in the Olympics, their perception for them changes.

    "If gradually people from all the countries of the world start participating in sports' competitions, there will definitely be a day when this world will be free of racial issues."


    Rachel and Emily from St Mary's CEP Primary School in Folkestone, UK have got in touch to let us know what they learn about 'black history.'

    They write: "In Year 6, we do some work relating to Black History in the Spring Term. We do a project about Martin Luther King, we listen to his famous speeches including 'I had a dream" and find out how he was treated as a Black person in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's in the USA."

    Thank you Rachel and Emily. Do you learn something similar at your school about black history? If not what do you learn about?


    St Cedd's School (see 1105) and St Mary's (see 1123) might be interested in this.

    We've found a picture of Martin Luther King from a press reception at the Ritz Hotel in London, England, in 1963!

    American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King in 1963 American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King in 1963

    What do you think of King's achievements? Are there any other public figures who have affected the way people perceive racial issues - for better or for worse?


    Northwood Primary School in Kent, UK have joined the debate!

    On the topic of sport and racial issues David has this to say:

    "I think that it does have an impact on sports like the under 21s match some racism was going round in the stadium. I don't like the idea of people being judged by the colour of their skin."

    Good point, David. Does anyone else have an opinion about the football match between England and Serbia earlier this week?


    Sparsh from Khaitan Public School in Sahibabad, India writes:

    "Usain Bolt followed his passion he too was driven and a sports person's calibre should not be measured by the skin tone, in fact any person with talent should not be held back just because of the colour of his or her skin."


    Right, we're half an hour into our live schools debate marking Black History Month - and you've sent in some great comments so far!

    Pupils have been discussing racial prejudice, and how sport can both help and hinder the public's attitude to race.

    World Class are interested to know: What are attitudes to race like in your country?


    St Cedd's School have sent us a picture of their 'brick wall of beliefs' inspired by Martin Luther King - thanks guys!

    St Cedd's School's 'belief wall' St Cedd's School's 'belief wall'

    Danville Park Girls School have also been thinking about how sport can affect attitudes to race (see our debate points, top).

    Teboho reckons that, "(Sport) can remove prejudice people have about different race groups by integration into spheres of life and getting to know people on a personal level."

    And Lauren says: "Winning a gold medal in an Olympic discipline is an enormous achievement, no matter what the race of the person is.

    As South Africans we cheered Caster Semenya from a last place all the way to the podium. She is an asset to our rainbow nation."

    Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates winning silver in the Women's 800m Final at the London 2012 Olympic Games Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates winning silver in the Women's 800m Final at the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Rachel and Emily from St Mary's CEP Primary School in Folkestone, UK write:

    "Mohamed "Mo" Farah was born in Somalia but is British and Jessica Ennis was born in England, but her father comes from Jamaica and she is British…they give us good role models. They show us that your race doesn't make any difference to who you are and what you can do in sport and in life."

    Jessica Ennis at the London 2012 Olympic games Jessica Ennis at the London 2012 Olympic games

    Lindsay Graham on twitter: "Enjoying this mornings #worldclassdebate I like Zinnia from India good point about recognition of talent and achievement."

    Want to use social media to take part in this debate? Visit our Facebook page or tweet using #worldclassdebate.


    Udeze from Northwood Primary School in Kent, UK writes this about learning about black history:

    "I think it is about all the good things black people have done in the past like Rosa Park, Harriet Tubman and Mary Seacole and I also think it is about learning more about black people."

    Rosa Parks in 1997 Rosa Parks in 1997

    Let's hear more from The Sagar School in Rajasthan, India!

    Vega from Grade 12 thinks that, "Sports have already impacted people's opinion about racial issues which we have seen in the case of football, basketball or athletics.

    "A sport whether for competition or for fun involves team work and brings people together; it shows that people are no different from one another and that is one of its key importances."

    And Parikshit adds, "Sports helped black people by the way they excelled in various events in international sports.

    "This caught the eye of society and called for an inclusion of the black community in the world society."


    Jack from St. Cedd's school in Chelmsford, UK writes:

    "We were writing a debate in Geography about caring for our environment. I was inspired by Martin Luther King's speech so I wrote my debate beginning 'I have a dream.' It's such a famous speech that everyone takes notice of it. His courage inspires us all."

    We hope the debate went well Jack! Have any more of you been inspired by anyone you've learnt about during Black History Month? If so, who?


    A question for debating schools from Lynsey Graham on twitter: "#worldclassdebate Hi, can the pupils taking part name some amazing role models for Black History Month that they admire?"


    Danville Park Girls' School in Durban, South Africa have more to say on the topic of race in sport.

    Cayley thinks that, "Sport brings people together. The athletes all have a passion for the same thing and can relate to each other and learn form each other, no matter what race they are"

    And Yuvna adds: "Sport has the potential to break barriers of racism as it is based on skill and talent and effort. Sport truly embraces the fact your skin colour does not matter."

    Great thoughts from them - and they've sent in a great pic as well! Thanks!

    Danville Park's netball team, which represented the province at the National Netball Championships! Danville Park's netball team, which represented the province at the National Netball Championships!

    We're just over an hour - and half-way - into our Black History Month debate, and there have been all sorts of interesting opinions!

    A lot of you are writing in with your thoughts on issues of race in sport - and how it can change people's attitudes for the better.

    But what about your society as a whole? Is race an issue where you live?

    Email with any opinions you may have - and don't forget, feel free to respond to the opinions of others. Agree? Disagree? We want to hear from you. After all... It's a debate.


    Frank from Northwood Primary School in Kent, UK, has a response to Lindsay's question (see 1202).

    "We learn that people like Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman are very famous role models for the great things that they have done," he tells us.

    What about you? Is there a black role model you particularly admire?


    Let's hear more from the pupils at St Cedd's School in Essex, UK!

    Jack tells us: "I'd like to think that if I was a white person on the bus with Rosa Parks, I'd have stood up for her. It's polite way to treat women, not worry about their colour."

    Alexander feels that, "Martin Luther was like Nelson Mandela - they stood up for what they believe in, even if they knew this was at extreme personal risk."


    Khaitan Public School in Sahibabad, India have got in touch, they write:

    "Black history is not taught as a part of our school curriculum however we have topics on civil rights movement, Nelson Mandela and Apartheid."

    Thanks guys! Who thinks BHM is a good idea? Why not learn about the civil rights movement and Apartheid instead?

    Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela

    Siddhant from The Sagar School in Rajasthan, India responds to our question 'what do you learn about black history':

    "I learnt that 'Black History' is about the ones who have suffered most against discrimination and racism. They were the last ones to be provided facilities and despite all odds they made it as the best runners and the best athletes. 'Black History' is one of the most cruel, harsh but yet one of the most inspiring times too."


    For pupils from Khaitan Public School, one of our Black History Month films (see right) prompted quite a reaction!

    Teacher Charmaine Vida Tayal told us: "Khaitan Public School pupils love Usain Bolt - well, that is what they shouted out with passion and were delighted to see the inspirational video".

    Role model? Usain Bolt poses at the London 2012 Olympic Games Role model? Usain Bolt poses at the London 2012 Olympic Games

    As we near the end of our debate we have a few questions to see how much attention you've all been paying in class!

    So, first question - In which country did Black History Month start?


    Rachael and Emily from St Mary's CEP School in Folkestone, UK, have also identified Usain Bolt as a black role model in the world of sport.

    "Usain Bolt and Yohann Blake (who both represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games) are the world's top 100m and 200m sprinters.

    "We see them as people just like us, we don't notice them for their colour just whom they are… Brilliant athletes."

    (They are) very competitive and very determined before and during the race and afterwards they are more relaxed and joking. Be great to meet them."

    Thanks to Rachael and Emily for all their great comments!


    Vinum from The Sagar School in Rajastan, India, identifies another black role model:

    "Today we see Barack Obama as the President of the superpower country the United States of America.

    "It is first time in history that a black person is presiding over Americans. Black people have come a long way - their struggle has been remarkable."

    Great thoughts from Vinum, there. Perhaps a female president could be possible in the future? But we should leave that topic for another debate...


    UPDATE: It's been a great debate so far, but we're afraid there's only 15 minutes left - so if you have something to say... Say it!

    If you're just joing us, schools around the world are debating issues around race to mark Black History Month.

    If you want to join in, it couldn't be easier - just email


    Here's a clue for any of you who are struggling with our first question...

    Who's flag is this? Who's flag is this?

    Joanna from St Cedd's School in Essex, UK, has got in touch to answer Lindsay's question at 1202 about black role models.

    She says: "Nelson Mandela. He never game up on his dream even though he was imprisoned.

    "He accomplished his dream even though it was difficult. He has taught me that I'm no different from anybody else because of the colour of my skin."


    Alice and Ria from St. Cedd's school in Chelmsford, UK both have the same answer to our question (1202)

    Alice writes: "President Obama tried his hardest and he showed black people they can be accepted. Martin Luther King started it but Obama finished it off. Obama thinks everyone is equal."

    Ria writes: "Obama - as he tried hard to give black people peace as he doesn't care about colours, he just cares that people in his country are safe and happy. He doesn't want fighting between black and white."

    President Barack Obama President Barack Obama

    Some of you really struggled with our question (1230) about which country Black History Month started in.

    The correct answer is... America!


    It's been a great debate today, as usual - with a lot of really interesting, contrasting opinions.

    Make sure you join us next Thursday for a special, ghoulish debate where we'll be discussing Mexico's Day of the Dead and other cultural traditions.

    We're going to wrap things up with a great email from Vega, who attend The Sagar School in Rajasthan, India.

    "'Black History' is spread over America and Africa. This is when colour was the representation of status.

    "I am of this colour and I haven't gone through the pain of my forefathers of not being granted an equal status to that of others.

    "For me it's not just history, its pride and honour to know that there were people who were part of my blood, who fought for my family and many others for what they could get and have what they have today."

    Thanks very much for that, Vega - really well-expressed.


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