LISA NANDY - Pioneer Billy overcame barriers

The shocking killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis two weeks ago has rightly become a watershed moment for the Black Lives Matter movement, not just in America, but here in the UK and across the world.
Lisa Nandy MPLisa Nandy MP
Lisa Nandy MP

It has been inspiring to see people speaking up about their experience of ingrained and institutional racial discrimination, and the need for this to be a moment of fundamental change in our society.

As the daughter of an Indian father, I have lived with racism in my life. Things have slowly changed for the better over the years, but not nearly quickly enough. It continues to be incumbent on us all to take an active stance against racism, no matter where and when we encounter it. Silence in the face of injustice will never deliver the change we need.

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In the context of the coronavirus crisis, it is hugely important that those who choose to protest do so with the responsibility of safeguarding their health and the health of those around them at the forefront of their minds. Practicing social distancing, using antibacterial handwash and wearing facemasks will help make these demonstrations as safe as possible.

And the small minority who use violence and criminal behaviour at these protests should understand the damage they do to the cause. They are silencing the powerful voices of those who want to demonstrate peacefully and risk allowing the real message behind this movement to go unheard.

In the last few days, there has been increased attention given to the important symbol of statues and memorials in this country. The people we want to remember, and sometimes the history we would rather forget. It reminded me of one we have here in Wigan, in Believe Square, that proudly celebrates the Wigan Rugby legend, Billy Boston. It matters that pioneers like Billy are celebrated and that future generations in this town – regardless of their background - can look up to him and appreciate not just his immense skill on the rugby pitch, but the barriers he overcame to display it.