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Statue unveiled for Wales’ first black headteacher who introduced Black History Month into school curriculums

Written by on 29/09/2021

The first black headteacher in Wales has been immortalised in the centre of Cardiff.

Betty Campbell MBE died in 2017 but was a popular community figure, campaigner and headteacher for years in the city.

A public vote decided three years ago that a statue would be made to honour her achievements.

Betty Campbell
Image: Betty Campbell sat on the UK government’s race relations advisory board and introduced Black History Month to the curriculum. Pic: Betty Campbell family

At the unveiling, her family told Sky News they were full of pride.

“Our family is extremely proud that Betty has been captured in this iconic and empowering way,” said Mrs Campbell’s daughter, Elaine.

“She is the first living woman and woman of colour to be made into a statue in Wales.

“She was first and foremost a wonderful wife, mother, auntie and community hero but her first passion was education – she believed it was a vehicle for success. Everyone recognises her as a truly inspirational woman.”

More on Black History Month

Born in 1934, Mrs Campbell was told by one of her teachers that she could never be a headteacher because the problems she would face as a black woman would be ‘insurmountable’.

But this spurred her on rather than discouraged her.

The statue was unveiled to honour the work of Wales' first black headteacher, Betty Campbell OBE.
Image: Around 100 people gathered in Cardiff Central Square to celebrate her legacy

Mrs Campbell went on to gain a scholarship at a leading private school and fought her way into the education sector, eventually becoming the headteacher of Mount Stuart Primary school in a diverse part of the city.

Her legacy is being celebrated by the school.

Shubnam Aziz, now a senior leader at the school, worked with Betty when she was only just starting out.

She remembers Betty as instilling strong values in everyone she met.

“She taught the children to be proud of who they are and be proud of their heritage and to celebrate their differences.

Born in 1934, Mrs Campbell was told by a teacher that she could never be a headteacher because the problems she would face as a Black woman would be ‘insurmountable’.
Image: Mrs Campbell was hailed for ‘working tirelessly for race equality’. Pic: Betty Campbell family

“She worked tirelessly for race equality. She strongly believed that children should know about their heritage and they should know about their history.

“She’s a forerunner for Black History within this country, it’s because of her that we celebrate Black History Month in the UK.”

Among her many roles in the community, Betty sat on the UK government’s race relations advisory board and introduced Black History Month into the curriculum.

Her bronze statue depicts Mrs Campbell as an oak tree with children underneath, the idea being to depict her influence, aspiration and inspiration for other generations.

Out of over 950 statues in the UK, just 16 are of black individuals, Mrs Campbell being the latest.

Around 100 people gathered in Cardiff‘s Central Square to witness this piece of history.

This trailblazer in education is now a permanent fixture for all to see.

 Sky News

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