'Bristol may never feel the same' - Poet Lawrence Hoo one year on from Colston toppling

03-06-21- Lawrence Hoo for Black Voices In Conversation- Khali Ackford/@khaliphotogrpahy
Credit: Khali Ackford/@khaliphotogrpahy

It has been one year since the eyes of the world turned to Bristol as the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled.

It happened during a Black Lives Matter demonstration where ten thousand people filled the city centre.

As part of our Black Voices In Conversation series, ITV News West Country has spoken to those across the region who continue to lead the movement to see what impact the past 12 months have had.

ITV West Country journalist Alpha Ceesay spoke to two people who separately and together have worked to empower Bristol's black communities.

  • Black Voices in Conversation: Jen Reid's and Lawrence Hoo's interview with ITV

Poet and campaigner Lawrence Hoo is determined to change how black history is taught in schools. 

He and creative Chaz Golding came up with the idea for a series of free online lessons for secondary students which went live earlier this year. 

Cargo Classroom tells the untold stories of pioneering leaders of African descent in a bid to empower Bristol's children of colour.

"Often still the people that you're shown to have achieved greatness are often seen to be Europeans when you're educated in England," Lawrence said.

Cargo Classroom has partnered with the National Education Union to make the classes accessible to students across the country. Credit: Cargo Classroom

"But you can see that people have contributed and achieved so much that looks like you so in a sense, we can achieve, we will achieve."

Lawrence was inspired to bring the initiative to life by his own experiences at school and not wanting his children to go through the same thing.

  • Lawrence on his experience of learning about black history at school

The program now carries even more weight following the events in the region in summer 2020 which sparked a national debate on how we remember our past.

And Lawrence says the action and debate over the past 12 months can and will have a huge impact moving forward.

Lawrence said: "I don't think Bristol is ever going to feel the same after what's happened. There's definitely an energy here of 'you can'.

"There's an energy that's coming up through the city of what the people can do. Through a lack of understanding and knowledge, there are children dying on the streets in Bristol because they have no access to the main. And it makes children take roots that ultimately result in their demise and often in their death.

"That's because a lot of children don't believe they have the ability to engage in a city that isn't representing them still to this day. This is to show them that you can achieve and the possibilities for you are endless, you just have to believe it."

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