Jessica Huntley was a Black power woman in education. Small ‘p’, small ‘e’. Definitely a capital ‘B’.There many ways to have an impact on people’s lives and Jessica fought hard for Justice. Capital ‘J’
Today is her birthday: The annual Huntley conference is dedicated to her legacy, to female activists, then, today, and pioneers and yet those to come. She passionate about improving young people’s education. She believed in helping young people to learn about themselves and their heritage by advocating for rounded education in Blackness, yes, in history, English, arts, maths and sciences but in writing the wrongs  – the theme of our exhibit at Gunnersbury Park Museum.

Among the many activities that she got involved in included her galvanising of the Black community in countering the rise of the draconian, systemically racist and unfair practices that saw African Caribbean heritage pupils classified as educationally sub-normal, excluded from local schools and ‘bussed’ out of their neighbourhoods.

A reimagining of the Black archive allows us to share in the narratives of representation: who has access, whose voices are missing, misconstrued or maligned and to break down discriminatory rhetoric that permeates our histories. Our central theme refocuses on the critical influence and contributions of Black Power Women and their pivotal roles in the Black Education Movements. However, we are conscious that we need to systematically revisit this vital topic not only because the research sources are extensive, the scope broad and evidence scattered, waiting to be rediscovered, but there many hidden and undocumented stories to be told.

Stella Dadzie’s words from the revised edition of ‘The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain’ by Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe (Verso, 2018) epitomise why we need to investigate the roles, agency and influence of Black power women and feminists in transforming how we think about race, society and education and how we act moving forward.

Black Power Women in Education – 18th Annual Huntley Conference takes place on 24 February at London Metropolitan Archives