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City Academy Birmingham – Rally Against Racism

Citizenship students at City Academy Birmingham recently attended the Rally Against Racism in Birmingham City Centre. The event was to mark the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech. It explored the impact of the speech on our multi-cultural and diverse city and further the effect the speech had on national opinion and legislation. Speakers also explored the issues of racism they feel still exist in society today.

Students had the chance to hear from a wide range of speakers, including Ian Austin MP, Eleanor Smith MP, who now represents Powell’s former seat in Wolverhampton, Shabana Mahmood MP, who represents the school’s Ladywood constituency, Preet Gil MP, Neena Gill CBE MEP and Ravi Subramanian, Unison’s Regional Secretary. Speakers were from a wide-range of cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds and many felt that the Rivers of Blood speech had had a direct impact on them and their communities growing up. They provided some really inspirational speeches, exploring the speech and its legacy from a broad perspective.

The question and answer session gave those in attendance a chance to scrutinise MPs about their current work to tackle racism in Parliament. Some very pertinent and thought-provoking questions were asked regarding air-raids in Syria, institutional racism and the police force and the deportation of Windrush migrants. City Academy student Talita Thomas asked an exceptional question, questioning the effectiveness of the Race Relations Act and the Equalities Act. She explained that she feels racism still exists in her community and asked MPs whether they felt this would change in another 50 years. MPs encouraged Talita and her peers to pursue a career in politics and to continue to be active citizens and work to combat injustice and prejudice in society.

This trip has been an exceptional experience for those in our Citizenship cohort who have studied racism, migration and politics in the post-war era. It has provided them with an opportunity to reflect on elements of their course, forge links with local leaders and also to engage in the active citizenship methods encouraged across the course.

We hope that a student from City Academy Birmingham will be inspired by the event and become a political leader of the future!