British coins to feature black, ethnic minority figures for the first time
London, July 27, 2020 (AltAfrica)-British coins may soon wear a new look as plans are underway to ensure black and ethnic minority figures appear on Britain’s currency for the first time
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering proposals by campaigners to have influential BAME people from throughout history featured on a set of coins, Treasury minister John Glen said.
A non-white person has never featured on British coins or notes, so the Banknotes of Colour campaign, run by former Conservative candidate Zehra Zaidi, has been fighting for representation.
Those under consideration include the first Indian and Gurkha soldiers who received the Victoria Cross, British-Jamaican Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, and Noor Inayat Khan, a World War II agent and one of only four women to have received the George Cross, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
Plans have been submitted to the Royal Mint, which has been encouraged by the Treasury to draft proposals and designs for potential coins.
Mr Glen told the paper Mr Sunak was “keen to support” the “timely proposal”.
He said: “The Chancellor is aware of this. We are obviously supportive and keen to be positive about it, we need to see some firm proposals from the Royal Mint but we are keen for this to happen.”
Mr Sunak has previously expressed support for the anti-racist cause highlighted by the Black Lives Matter protests, and supported calls for widespread changes in attitudes.
He said: “As a British Asian of course I know that racism exists in this country. And I know people are angry and frustrated. They want to see, and feel, change.”
Ms Zaidi said in a letter to the Chancellor: “We propose a specific next theme of service to the nation by Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority people, both in military conflict and on the home front.
“This theme will unite people, especially now as the nation has come together through the pandemic, and is collectively recognising the heroic work by ethnic minority staff in our health and care services
“It is surely essential that this country does not lose another opportunity to demonstrate that the contributions of Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority groups are truly valued.
“Symbols matter, and we urge you to support our campaign.”
Previously, in 2018, comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar and presenter Sandi Toksvig were among those calling for a historic figure from a black and ethnic minority background (BAME) to feature on a new £50 note.
A letter published in The Sunday Times and signed by over 200 people, including Lord Victor Adebowale and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, said that “no-one from an ethnic minority has yet featured on a banknote” despite BAME communities representing “14% of the British population”.
The letter read: “Changing this would send a message that the contribution of ethnic minorities to Britain’s history, culture and economy is recognised and valued.
“What better representation of ‘global Britain’ could there be?”