Bermudian national hero Mary Prince was praised during a recent session of the British Parliament, with MP Theresa Villiers saying that Ms Prince “never stopped resisting the oppression to which she had been subjected” and her “struggle has helped to create the better world in which we live today.”
Speaking in the UK Parliament during a discussion on Black History Month and education, Theresa Villiers, the MP for Chipping Barnet, said, “As many of us have said, Black History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution to our society made by black British people over many centuries.
“While records show people of African heritage living in these islands for nearly two millennia, very few have ever had their stories told.
“Many of us in this country today are unaware of the long and complex history of black people in Britain. That is why I tabled an Adjournment debate a few weeks ago to ask the Government to ensure that black history plays a prominent part in the history curriculum in our schools.
“History in schools should always be taught in a balanced, objective and impartial way, but an understanding of history can help to inculcate a sense of unity. History teaching should be inclusive, not divisive.
“We should be honest about, for example, the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade and this country’s 250-year involvement in that appalling crime against humanity, but we should also recognise that our nation has a strong history of standing up for individual freedom, for the rule of law and for justice.
“That legacy has an impact today, but we should take heart from the stories of black people in our history who succeeded in spite of the adversity that they faced.
“We have heard about many of them this afternoon, but I would like to mention just one — Mary Prince. Born a slave in Bermuda, her autobiographical narrative was published in London in 1831. It was hugely influential and successful, a landmark in the fight to end slavery in the British empire.
“It formed part of the first ever anti-slavery petition by a black woman to Parliament, illustrating Mary Prince’s determination: while she might have spent much of her life enslaved, her spirit was never broken, and she never stopped resisting the oppression to which she had been subjected. Her struggle has helped to create the better world in which we live today,” Ms Villiers added.
2020 marked the first year the island officially celebrated Mary Prince Day, with the second day of Cup Match named after the iconic Bermudian who authored a book detailing her first hand experience of being enslaved, helping to galvanize the anti-slavery movement.