The Express and Star have deliberately and social engineered a debate promoting the legacy of Enoch of Powell in Wolverhampton and his infamous Rivers of Blood speech which after 50 years is still divisive and dangerous.
Blue Plaques are an important part of historical recognition in this country and especially in Wolverhampton. There are numerous Blue Plaques to the great and the good of Wolverhampton, mostly for dead white men of wealth and power. However, it was not until 2012 when I was invited to speak at a Black History Month seminar organised by the Wolverhampton Civic Society that I challenged them that there was no Black and Minority person recognised in the City with a Blue Plaque.
However, they were happy to work me and others to rectify this by recognising the late Revd Dr Oliver Lyseight, founder of the New Testament Church of God established the first UK Black majority Church in Wolverhampton in 1953. He was also voted second in the 2004 Poll 100 Great Black Britons. With support of the Lyseight family and NTCG Church in Health Town and the national headquarters we raised money and in September 2013 a Blue Plaque was erected at the Health Town church. The launch event was very high profile with over 200 guests and dignitaries alongside local MPs, councillors, national church leaders and the High Commissioner of Jamaica. The then Labour leader Ed Miliband and Conservative Cabinet Minister Baroness Varsi provided letters of support. This Blue Plaque was the first major recognition of the Jamaican community in Wolverhampton who since the time that my parents’ generation arrived during and after WW2 becoming part of the Windrush Generation.
What Wolverhampton now needs are more plaques of other people from the Caribbean and Africa, but also the Polish, Italian, South Asian and East Asian African communities who have played an important role in the business and public life of Wolverhampton. The current exhibition at Wolverhampton Gallery curated by Apna Heritage (http://www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/whats-on/apna-heritage-exhibition/) highlighting the role of the Punjabi community in Wolverhampton which has had very little coverage in the Express & Star
We need to remember that many aspects of British society today would be unrecognisable without the contributions which immigration and integration have made to our society over the generations: from the NHS to the monarchy, our language, literature, enterprise, public life, fashion, music, politics, science, our culture and food, even humour. Surely the Wolverhampton Civic Society with support of the Express & Star should be doing more to promote the diversity and contribution of migrant communities instead of focusing on Enoch Powell. All this risks achieving is sending the wrong message about the history, and further dividing Wolverhampton about the future of our nation.