A statue of inspirational educator and community leader Betty Campbell is being unveiled on Wednesday the 29th of September in Cardiff city centre.
A monument to honour Betty Campbell MBE, Wales’ first black headteacher and champion of equality and diversity, is being unveiled in Cardiff city centre. The sculpture was commissioned following the Hidden Heroines campaign organised by Monumental Welsh Women, broadcast on BBC Wales. Campbell topped a public vote to decide who would be the first ever statue of a named, non-fictionalised woman in Wales. The other shortlisted women were Margaret Haig Thomas (Lady Rhondda), Elaine Morgan, Elizabeth Andrews and Sarah Jane Rees (Cranogwen).
‘Our Mission is to celebrate female ambition and success by commemorating the achievements of great Welsh Women – and to inspire the next generation of great Welsh women,’ said Helen Molyneux, founder of Monumental Welsh Women. ‘We were thrilled when Betty Campbell was chosen by the Welsh public to be the first Welsh woman to be commemorated with a statue in Wales. Betty’s impact during her life was incredible, but, as with so many women throughout history, likely to be forgotten or overlooked by future generations unless something was done to bring her to people’s attention.’
Eve Shepherd, sculptor of the Betty Campbell Monument said: ‘I have had the total privilege and honour to create a monument which is a celebration of inclusivity and diversity. I hope this sculpture is a fitting tribute to Cardiff and Tiger Bay, the richly diverse community in which Betty grew up in and loved. I aimed to continue through this monument the education in which Betty felt so passionately about, especially black education. Finally, I hoped to pay homage to Betty, the precious and formidable woman, to allow her legacy and memory to live on.’
Born in Butetown in 1934 and raised in the poverty of Tiger Bay, Betty Campbell was a studious child who loved learning. She won a scholarship to Lady Margaret High School for Girls in Cardiff, but was told by her teacher that a working-class black girl could never achieve the academic heights she aspired to. She proved her doubters wrong in the most inspirational way and this permanent monument is a testament to her endeavours in the face of adversity.
Campbell championed her nation’s multicultural heritage throughout her professional teaching career and in her community; she provided a sense of belonging and identity for young people and her wider community. Under her leadership, Mount Stuart Primary School in Butetown became a beacon for best practice in equality and multicultural education throughout the UK, a legacy that continues today. Campbell continued to influence Welsh life through a series of public appointments, serving as an independent councillor for Butetown, a board member for BBC Wales, a member of the Home Office’s race advisory committee and a member of the Commission for Racial Equality. She helped to create Black History Month and in 2003 was awarded an MBE for her services to education and community life.
The monument has been made possible thanks to the support of Monumental Welsh Women’s funders and partners and generous donations by members of the public. A commemorative poem has been composed by Taylor Edmonds, former regular voice in Wales Arts Review and the current Future Generations Commissioner for Wales’ Poet in Residence, especially for the unveiling ceremony, which will take place at 11am on Wednesday the 29th of September in Cardiff’s Central Square.
To find out more about the Betty Campbell Monument, visit the Monumental Welsh Women website.
Header image: Betty Campbell in 1981 (Credit: Media Wales).