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UK's trailblazing first black female headteacher leaves a lasting legacy



Yvonne Conolly

UK's trailblazing first black female headteacher dies aged 81 'leaving lasting legacy'


TRIBUTES to the country’s first woman black headteacher who moved to Camden from Jamaica with just £36 in her pocket.


Yvonne Conolly, who has died aged 81 following a long battle with myeloma, had to be accompanied by a “minder” on the day she took over Ring Cross primary school, Islington, in 1968.


“All hell broke loose” with “all sorts of nasty” racist abuse, she had recalled in a wide-ranging interview with the New Journal last year.


Read more - Camden Journal


HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY FIGURES

CHADWICK BOSEMAN
CHADWICK BOSEMAN
Chadwick Boseman played a number of iconic Black roles, but his portrayal as King T'Challa in Black Panther cemented his place in Black history.

As T'Challa, he inspired Black children across the world - he ensured Black stories were heard and represented.
SIR LEARIE CONSTANTINE
SIR LEARIE CONSTANTINE
Cricketer Sir Learie Constantine launched the first legal case against racial discrimination in 1943. This is thought to have shaped the Race Relations Act.

In 1962 Constantine was knighted for his work in race relations, becoming the UK's first Black peer.
MARY SEACOLE
MARY SEACOLE
Mary Seacole's request to nurse British Crimean War soldiers was denied by the War Office - so she funded her own trip.

She set up the 'British Hotel', a place of recuperation for wounded soldiers, and went on to become a revered figure in the UK.
DR DAVID PITTS
DR DAVID PITTS
Dr David Pitt was the longest-serving Black Parliamentarian, receiving a lifetime peerage in 1975.

Dr Pitt twice ran to be an MP, but after suffering extreme racist rhetoric during the 1970 election he never ran again.

He'd have been the UK's first Black MP.
BARBARA BLAKE
BARBARA BLAKE
Barbara Blake Hannah became UK TV's first Black news reporter in 1968, but after nine months was dismissed in response to racist viewer complaints.

Hannah has gone on to become a successful author and has served as a senator in the Jamaican Parliament.
CLAUDIA JONES
CLAUDIA JONES
Claudia Jones founded the West Indian Gazette, an anti-racist newspaper which campaigned for social equality, in 1958.

Months later, in response to the Notting Hill race riots, Jones launched what went on to become the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival.
OLIVE MORRIS
OLIVE MORRIS
Olive Morris became a key leader against racial injustice throughout the 1970s after being caught up in an incident of police brutality. After stepping in, she was beaten and detained.

In 1979, Olive died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She was 27 years old.
DOREEN LAWRENCE
DOREEN LAWRENCE
Doreen Lawrence has spent 27 years campaigning for justice for her son Stephen, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993 - as well as for the rights of other victims of racist crimes.

She was made a life peer in 2013 for her commitment to race relations.
ARETHA FRANKLIN
ARETHA FRANKLIN
Aretha Franklin was not only an icon of music, but also of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1970 she offered to post bail for activist Angela Davis: "I want to use [my money] to help our people."

Pres. Obama said: "American History wells up when Aretha sings."
PAUL STEPHENSON
PAUL STEPHENSON
Paul Stephenson OBE led the Bristol Bus Boycott in 1963, over their refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews.

In 1964 Stephenson made national headlines when he refused to leave a pub which banned Black people. He was arrested and kept in cells overnight.
ARTHUR WHARTON
ARTHUR WHARTON
Arthur Wharton became the fastest man in Britain at age 20, however, it was being spotted by the manager of Darlington F.C. in 1885 that made history.

Wharton became the world's first Black professional footballer when he started as goalkeeper at the club.
YVONNE CONOLLY
YVONNE CONOLLY
Yvonne Conolly made national headlines when she was appointed as Britain's first Black female headteacher at Ring Cross Primary School in 1969.

Reflecting on her career in 2019, she said: "The differences were far less than the commonalities that we shared."
DIANE ABBOTS
DIANE ABBOTS
Diane Abbott was the first Black woman elected to the Commons in 1987.

Before Election 2017, Diane Abbott received almost half of all the online abuse sent to female MPs.

In 2008 she was awarded by the Human Rights Awards for her famous '42 Days' Commons speech.
SIR TREVOR McDONALD
SIR TREVOR McDONALD
Sir Trevor McDonald became a household name when he was appointed as anchor of ITV's 'News at Ten' in 1992.

He was one of the first regular Black faces on UK TV when he joined ITV News in 1973, and in 1999 he was knighted for services to journalism.
MAYO ANGELOU
MAYO ANGELOU
Maya Angelou was a Grammy-winning poet and a vocal figure in the Civil Rights Movement.

Across her lifetime she received over fifty honorary degrees.

She performed 'On the Pulse of Morning' at Bill Clinton's 1993 presidential inauguration.
STEVE McQUEEN
STEVE McQUEEN
Steve McQueen became the first Black filmmaker to receive the Oscar for 'Best Picture', for '12 Years A Slave' in 2014.

McQueen also has two BAFTAs to his name, one also for '12 Years A Slave', and one for his 2008 film 'Hunger'.
EUGENE BULLARD
EUGENE BULLARD
Eugene Bullard was the first Black American military pilot, but after witnessing his father's narrow escape from lynching in Ohio, he fled to Glasgow.

He later moved on to London, then Paris, where he pursued a career in boxing.
JUSTIN FASHANU
JUSTIN FASHANU
Justin Fashanu was Britain's first Black and gay professional footballer.

Justin died by suicide in 1998, eight years after publicly coming out after a newspaper threatened to out him.

He faced intense homophobia from the media and his family.
DARCUS HOWE
DARCUS HOWE
Darcus Howe partook in a protest against frequent police raids on a Black-owned restaurant in 1970.

Howe, with eight others, faced a trial lasting 55 days for 'inciting a riot'. They were known as the Mangrove Nine.

All nine were cleared of the main charge.
BARACK OBAMA
BARACK OBAMA
Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on Nov 4, 2008.

Obama's presidency unlocked the potential for every Black child to be whatever they want to be, and symbolised hope that the centuries of neglect towards Black communities was changing.
MALORIE BLACKMAN
MALORIE BLACKMAN
Malorie Blackman's most well-known book was 'Noughts and Crosses', which explored an alternate-reality of racism and prejudice.

Blackman has continuously advocated for representation for Black children within fiction.
MEGHAN MARKLE
MEGHAN MARKLE
Meghan Markle's marriage to Prince Harry provided hope of greater inclusivity and tolerance for many Black Britons in 2018.

Two years later, they've quit as full-time royals and left the UK, seemingly driven out by toxic and often racist media coverage.
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM
Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress in 1968.

In '72 she ran for the presidency, becoming the first Black candidate for a major party's nomination.

She would lose the nomination, but did win 10% of the delegates' votes.
SISLIN FAY ALLEN
SISLIN FAY ALLEN
Britain's first Black policewoman, Sislin Fay Allen, joined the Metropolitan Police in 1968.

She received many "horrible" letters in her four years serving for the Met: "Some of them were livid."

Allen left the force in 1972, when she returned to Jamaica.

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