Black History Month – The Alumni

Dum, dum, dum – the name sounds like a bad movie sequel. I can already imagine hearing that cheesy voiceover guy (you know the one I’m talking about) going, “In a land far, far away, there was – “. I promise you this is not what it’s about.  This inspirational tale is about Baroness Valerie Amos, who is an alumnus of Townley Grammar school (My secondary school), hence the title.

Baroness Valerie Amos was born March 13th, 1954 in British Guyana in South America. She then attended Bexley Technical High School for Girls (now known as Townley Grammar School) and the students elected her the first Black Deputy Head Girl. She obtained a degree in sociology at the University of Warwick. Later she took courses in cultural studies at the University of Birmingham and the University of East Anglia.

She then went on to work in Equal Opportunities, Training and Management Services in her local government.  From there, she became the Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission from 1989 to 1994. In 1995 Baroness Amos co-founded Amos Fraser Bernard. She was an adviser to the South African government on public service reform, human rights and employment equity.

The government appointed Amos Secretary of State for International Development on 12 May 2003. She became the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.

In July 2010 she became to the role of Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. She took up this position on 1 September 2010 and remained in post until 29 May 2015.

In September 2015 she was appointed the 9th director of the School of Oriental & African Studies, becoming the first woman of colour to lead a university in the United Kingdom.

“I was taken aback when I found out I’d be the first black female head of a university,”

Baroness Valerie Amos was a woman of many influential firsts. She was a pioneer who trailblazed a bright path in politics for many more of us to follow. In honour of black history month, I chose to do an inspirational black woman with strong ties to Townley Grammar School because all of her past achievements allow for a successful future.

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