Home Europe Lewis Hamilton calls for school children to be taught about black history

Lewis Hamilton calls for school children to be taught about black history

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By JONATHAN SPENCER and JOE DAVIES
First PUBLISHED: 11:00, 26 December 2020

Davidson Hamilton brought his family over from Grenada to Britain in 1955
Lewis Hamilton has been hugely active in his support for Black Lives Matter
He took the knee throughout while wearing T-shirts with anti-racism slogans
Hamilton said the Black Lives Matter movement gave him ‘extra drive’ this year

Lewis Hamilton has called on school children to be taught about black history after not discovering his grandparents were from the Windrush generation until this year.

He also said that the Black Lives Matter movement helped drive him on to clinch a record-equalling seventh Formula One title last season.

The Brit, who equalled Michael Schumacher’s remarkable world title haul, has been a huge advocate of the movement this year.

And Hamilton, who was a guest editor for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Boxing Day, said he wants schools to shift their curriculums to teach more black history.

Lewis Hamilton has called on school children to be taught about black history after not discovering his grandparents were from the Windrush generation until this year.

Lewis Hamilton has called on school children to be taught about black history after not discovering his grandparents were from the Windrush generation until this year.

He said: ‘Growing up in the UK, you learn about white history, simple as. I never learnt about black history, I never learnt about where my family were from.

‘My family is from Grenada but my Dad hadn’t really taken me through the history books of where my granddad’s roots started, where my grandparents, [and] great-grandparents were from.

‘It wasn’t until this year it became a real learning year, I had to go and do that learning from myself and discover my grandparents are from the Windrush generation, which I’m even more proud of my granddad now and my grandparents and what they achieved.’

Hamilton drove to his fifth world championship in the shadow of his grandfather’s death in 2018.

Davidson Hamilton brought his family over from Grenada to Britain in 1955, escaping the storms that destroyed most of the nutmeg trees he farmed.

In his town of Grand Roy on the west coast of the island he earned a reputation as the fastest man on two wheels.

Scornful of the dangerous roads snaking through the hills, he is reputed to have scorched on his BSA motorbike from Grand Roy to the neighbouring town of Gouyave three miles away in five minutes.

Speaking today, Hamilton continued: ‘We can’t let this movement die a quiet death. We have got to keep it alive but I think the curriculums need to shift finally. And my nieces and nephews, I want them to learn about both of their sides.

‘The great white history and also, they’re mixed race, so it would be great for them to learn about where their dad’s from and their black history.

‘We are caught in a trap because our history cannot be told without confronting two things that we in this country do not like to talk about. One is slavery and one is the violence of empire.’

During many race events last season, Hamilton was seen taking the knee on the winner’s podium in protest against the killing of George Floyd while he wore many T-shirts and masks with anti-racism slogans on them.

The 35-year-old, who recently won Sports Personality of the Year, said: ‘I had this extra drive in me this year to get to the end of those races.

‘It was a different drive than what I’ve had in me in the past.

‘To get to the end of those races first so that I could utilise that platform [for Black Lives Matter] and shine the light as bright as possible.’

Hamilton regularly called for political change throughout last season by using his platform as Formula One’s biggest star.

After winning the Tuscany Grand Prix in September, Hamilton escaped punishment for carrying a slogan on his T-shirt reading: ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,’ in reference to the black woman who was killed by police in Kentucky in March.

His Mercedes team also adopted a black livery for the 2020 campaign in a stand against discrimination.

And when asked by Professor David Olusoga whether he was afraid of how people would react to his public stand in support of BLM, Hamilton replied: ‘There is no way that I could stay silent.

‘And once I said that to myself, I didn’t hold any fear.’

Hamilton was also quizzed by presenter Nick Robinson about racism in his sport and the fact that he is the only black Formula One driver.

Hamilton replied: ‘There are many other young kids of colour that deserve the opportunity to progress, have a great education, be an engineer or whatever it is they want. But the fact is, the opportunity is not the same for them.’