To coincide with this year’s Black History Month, I reflect on my journey to mother’s childhood home, and how she and “Mother Seacole” inspire me.
The place is Windsor Forest, Manchester, in Jamaica. We walked half a mile through bushes & trees then we came across some graves. Walking beyond them we then came to a small house built on red Bauxite. A few kids emerged, barefoot running and smiling. This, my mother told me, was where she was born, the graves we saw were filled with family members.
200 years ago and near to my mother’s place of birth and still suffering from the legacy of slavery, Mary Seacole was a Doctress determined to care & aid soldiers. At age 50, in the 1850s, she travelled by ship, via Britain (where she faced rejection) on to the Crimean war – she became famous for her efforts and was affectionately known as “Mother Seacole.”. My mother travelled by ship to England in 1959, as one of the “Windrush Generation” , to aid Britain’s recovery from the second world war.
Whilst we remembered Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole was quickly forgotten. Her place has now rightly been restored to the history books – a reminder of the values of being caring & compassionate irrespective of your background – a wonderful virtue shared by our mothers. This year is “Windrush 75”, a year in which we remember those who arrived here on the Empire Windrush, the Windrush Generation, of which my mother is one. My mother and “Mother Seacole” inspired my personal journey in law, not only to support clients but to inspire aspiring lawyers to join the profession and to be caring and compassionate. Above all, to ensure our profession is accessible to all, irrespective of background and to empower such individuals to overcome challenges. The very essence of social mobility.
Mary never met Queen Victoria but now on the new Royal Mint £5 commemorative coin, she has her place with King Charles lll who is on the obverse side of the coin. We are proud to have played our part in the launch of this new coin during this Black History Month. My mother inspired her son to become the first black Senior Partner in a top 100 UK Law firm (Moore Barlow). In supporting our sisters, we proudly salute Mary Seacole and her symbolic representation of diversity, in particular nurses and of course my mother and the many mothers like her – all of whom have cared for the nation and deserve recognition.