FIRST STATUE OF A WOMAN IN WALES
Two years ago, Welsh journalist Carolyn Hitt discovered there is not one single statue of a historical Welsh woman in Wales – only Boudicca and Queen Victoria. Statues of Welsh male heroes abound on the streets of Cardiff, but there is no trace of the distinguished women who have helped to shape the present state of Wales. Helen Molyneux, the chair of the Institute Of Welsh Affairs, decided that it was high time that we acclaim the heritage of Welsh female heroes.
With the assistance of the Welsh Women’s Equality Network, Helen drew up an initial long-list of historical Welsh women. The Hidden Heroines project created an opportunity for lesser-known women’s voices to be heard throughout Wales, as well as Britain. A panel whittled this lineup down to a shortlist of five Welsh women: Labour organiser Elizabeth Andrews, headteacher Betty Campbell, poet Sarah Jane Rees (aka Cranogwen), evolutionary anthropologist Elaine Morgan, and suffragette Lady Rhondda. The public cast their vote and the winner was announced as Betty Campbell.
Born and bred in Butetown, Campbell was the daughter of a Jamaican father and a Welsh Barbadian mother. Although proving to be an intelligent pupil, Campbell was told that the chances of her realising her dream of becoming a teacher were “insurmountable” because she was black and working class. However, she defied these prejudices and went on to become Wales’ first black headteacher at Mount Stuart Primary School in Butetown. She advocated the multicultural heritage of her nation and made it her mission to highlight the significance of teaching pupils about black British history – history that was, and still is, seldom taught in British schools. As well as helping to create Black History Month, she encouraged BAME young people to be proud of their identity and culture.
Up until her death in October 2017, Campbell continued to focus on the importance of diversity and multiculturalism in Wales. Her statue will be unveiled in 2020 outside Cardiff Central station, hopefully leading the way for more Welsh revolutionary heroines to be celebrated in the near future.
words Mared Gruffydd