Statue of Wales’ first black head teacher, Betty Campbell, unveiled in Cardiff
A statue of Wales’ first black head teacher, Betty Campbell, has been unveiled in Central Square, Cardiff today.
The monument to the black history campaigner is believed to be the first statue of a named, non-fictional woman in an outdoor public space in Wales.
It was designed and created by Eve Shepherd and is the result of the Hidden Heroines campaign which asked the public to vote for who they would wish to see immortalised from a shortlist of five historical Welsh women.
Judge Ray Singh CBE Chair of Race Council Cymru said the statue is “worthy tribute to an outstanding Welsh woman, whose legacy lives on”.
Betty Campbell statue unveiled. pic.twitter.com/F6WUfMM9rq
— Mark Hutchings (@markhutchings1) September 29, 2021
Born in Cardiff in 1934, from a Welsh Mother and Jamaican Father, Betty Campbell became a school teacher in 1963.
She proved her doubters wrong after being told as a child that her dream job was “insurmountable”.
In the early 1970s, she became the nation’s first black Head Teacher with her post at Mount Stuart Primary in Butetown.
During the 1980s she became a member of the Board of BBC Wales, overseeing editorial and production issues. In 2003, she was made an honorary fellow of UWIC for services to education and community life, for which she was also awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
In 2015, she was presented with her lifetime achievement award by Kebba Manneh, chair of Unison Cymru Wales’ Black Members Group, for her lifetime contribution to Black History in Education in Wales.
It’s been said that Black History Month in the UK, can be traced back to trips, class assemblies and workshops organised by her Mrs Campbell in 1973. This forged the way for Black History Wales 365, where Black History is taught and celebrated not just annually, but throughout the year.
Judge Ray Singh CBE Chair of Race Council Cymru said: “A worthy tribute to an outstanding Welsh woman, whose legacy lives on in all who were privileged to know her. Black History must continue to be supported and embedded in Welsh curriculum and included as a key part of Welsh History as part of Mrs Campbell’s legacy”.
Geraldine Trotman, Black History Patron for Wales said: “I am so proud of Betty, this is one of the greatest moments for us, all of us in Butetown, all of us in Wales. Betty was family and I have such fond memories of her. She was a champion for every single one of us in the Black History movement and a real champion for all the people of Wales.
“Betty spoke, whenever she spoke, she reached into the heart of whoever was speaking, no matter who they were, she could speak to the high and she could speak to the low and this was special about Betty she embodied Black History, she talked about Black History, she wanted to see the survival of Black History.
“Betty was a Tiger Bay girl, a tower of strength for many of us who continued to fight against injustices of racial inequality. She engaged with people of all walks of life and Betty, was born in Tiger Bay, and stayed in Tiger Bay and tomorrow, we will have her installed in the town centre where people will never forget the legacy of Betty Campbell.”
Professor Uzo Iwobi OBE, Black History Wales Representative & Founder of Race Council Cymru said: “I am absolutely delighted to see this day when Mrs Betty Campbell MBE our much beloved Black History Wales Patron’s statue is erected and installed in its prestigious place here in the heart of Cardiff.
“This is such a worthy tribute to an outstanding Black woman of Wales who led the way for embedding Black History in Welsh schools starting from her school at Mount Stuart School Cardiff.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The unveiling of this statue is an important moment to consider the progress of equality for Black, Asian and ethnic minority teachers and leaders in the education profession.
“Betty Campbell was a trailblazer, as are many of the leaders in NAHT’s own ‘leaders for race equality’ group, who recently published a book about their experiences of race and racism during their careers.
“But there is still much more work to be done. We know that our profession is not yet representative of the communities we serve, and that this is a particular issue at senior leadership level. That’s why it’s so important that these experiences are heard as widely as possible as there is still a lack of awareness and understanding within the sector.