People Campaign for the New £50 note to Feature Ethnic Minority Figure

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The Bank of England is under pressure to choose a person of ethnic minority after they appealed for public nominations for a person to appear on the new polymer £50 note. Campaigners have been calling for a historic figure with an ethnic minority background to feature.

In a campaign led by Stand Up director Zehra Zaidi and the director of Every Generation, Patrick Vernon for the new banknote to “reflect modern multicultural Britain”. More than 200 people, including stars and politicians, have signed a letter urging the Bank of England to choose a figure from a black and minority ethnic background.

Maajid Nawaz made a plea to the governor of the Bank of England to put a portrait of a person from black, Asian and minority ethnic background on the new plastic £50 note.

Tom Tugendhat, tweeted

“Having diversity on notes isn’t about being politically correct, it’s about being historically correct. Our nation was built by millions, many were from thousands of miles away. Celebrating them is celebrating ourselves, whatever our background.

Among black people who could become the first ethnic minority face on a British banknote include; composer and writer Ignatius Sancho, who fought to end the slave trade and became the first black person to vote in a British election, and John Edmonstone, a freed slave from Guyana who taught Charles Darwin taxidermy in Edinburgh.

Ms Zaidi told Sky News she wanted the Bank of England to “commit to the policy of trying to source this first ethnic minority figure” as “inclusion matters”.

Campaign backer Lord Victor Adebowale, the chief executive of social care provider Turning Point, said it was an opportunity to “educate the country”.

He told Sky News: “I think it’s quite shocking – 400 years of the Bank of England and not one black face on any currency in a multicultural country like Great Britain?

“We’re a global country, it’s obvious we should have a black face on the currency.”

In a letter to The Sunday Times, signed by the likes of comedians Sanjeev Bhaskar and Sandi Toksvig and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the campaign said a BAME figure would show their contribution the UK was “valued and recognised”.

“Ethnic minority communities represent 14% of the British population,” it said.

“We do not lack candidates, and arguably their achievements were the greater for having been made at a time when many careers and were effectively closed to them, whether through colonial rules, racism, or the legacy of slavery.

“However, no one from an ethnic minority has yet featured on a banknote.”

The executive director of the Equality Trust, Dr Wanda Wyporska, said it was time BAME “heroes and heroines” were recognised for their contributions to British society.

She said: “Now more than ever, we need to celebrate the rich diversity of UK society: representation on banknotes is a great way to do this.”

Nominations close this Friday. Who would you suggest from the black and ethnicity to become the face on the new polymer £50 note?


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