Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson has described racism as “bone-deep” in Britain and the US.
The Baptist minister and politician, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr, has urged for the history of countries in the Caribbean and Africa to be taught in British schools.
His comments come after the joint general secretaries of the National Education Union (NEU) sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the injustices and racial disparities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter called for immediate advice to employers in the education sector about racial disparities, for the school curriculum to embrace black history, and for new entrants to the teaching profession to be more diverse.
Speaking on a Black Lives Matter solidarity panel, hosted by the NEU, he said: “The top universities in Britain have some obligation to include people of colour.
“Why should there be a monopoly on intelligence? That’s a supremacist proposition. When we learn together we grow together.
He added: “Life is not a straight line, white folks don’t have a monopoly on information, we must figure out a way to include people of every level who bring different attributes to the education table.
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“Racism is bone-deep in Britain and America, race supremacy is the foundation, the lead race is supreme, blacks inferior.
“The whole body of academic work and practical work are written around blacks being inferior whether they’re from India, the Caribbean or Africa, they’re inferior.”
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Labour MP Diane Abbott, who also spoke on the panel, said the UK education system has “sought to stigmatise” children from minority ethnic backgrounds.
The former shadow home secretary said: “I believe strongly that we need a teaching workforce, particularly in our big cities, that looks like the children that it is trying to teach.
“I believe it is very important that we continue to recruit, encourage and promote teachers of colour, not because only teachers of colour can teach children of colour, but because you can’t be what you can’t see.
“And children need to see teachers of colour in the staff room to help them to believe the world of education is for them and also if you have more teachers of colour, it means an enriched experience for all children.”
Mr Jackson recently told Sky News in an exclusive interview that while those who are protesting against racism face a big fight, they have more tools available to them than he did.
Comparing today’s battle with that faced by him and others all those decades ago, he said: “We didn’t have telecommunications in that time, we didn’t have social media, we didn’t have the right to vote.
“It’s a bigger fight but we have more tools to fight.”