Our Lady’s welcomed the first black female to become MP and to hold a seat in the House of Commons, Diana Abbott. The student council, sixth form and the Year 9 cohort listened to Diane’s incredible speech before having an intimate Q&A session. She spoke of her relentless determination to succeed in politics, her struggles against discrimination and her fight for diversity in our society. These included being the only black female at her secondary school and at Newnham College, Cambridge University, where she studied for her History degree.
Diane spoke about her love of Hackney and how over the years she is delighted to have witnessed so many developments in social justice, whether it be sexism, racism or discrimination, but she stresses that always more needs to be done and we need to ensure that the progress made is held onto and sustained. She spoke about her education initiative, ‘London Schools and the Black Child’, which aims to raise educational achievement levels amongst black children. It was especially poignant as Taiwo Oyebola, a past Our Lady’s student won one of these awards last year for her incredible achievement in her A Levels.
Her mantra for success in life is to always strive to get the best qualifications you can, and to have sheer determination to get where you want. Always believe in yourself, if you have not seen anyone who looks like you be in the position you want to be in, don’t let that stop you, make that your driving force. Lastly, you should always treat other woman with courtesy and respect during your career, whatever they are and whatever their position. Woman everywhere need to support and encourage other women to succeed.
Diane talked about her love of writing and shared her favourite quote: ‘Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave’ –And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.