The Betty Campbell Monument - the very first statue of a real Welsh woman in Wales.
Our first and most ambitious statue - the monument to Betty Campbell - was unveiled by members of her family on 29th September 2021 at 11 am. The statue, by renowned artist, Eve Shepherd is located outside the new HMRC building near Central Square, Cardiff, opposite the BBC Cymru Wales headquarters. For more information about the monument, including video of the unveiling, photos of the day and of the monument itself, please visit www.thebettycampbellmonument.com
The Monument is truly iconic and is unlike any other statue in Cardiff. The response to the unveiling has been overwhelming, with coverage on every news channel and major newspapers.
Click here for a link to a video created by the WCVA to celebrate the unveiling of the Monument.
Betty Campbell was told a working-class black girl could never succeed but she proved her doubters wrong in the most inspirational way. She became Wales' first black head-teacher and championed her nation's multicultural heritage throughout her life. No wonder Nelson Mandela sought her out on his visit to Wales.
Born in Butetown, Betty was raised in the poverty of Tiger Bay. Her mother struggled to make ends meet after her father was killed in the Second World War. Betty loved the escapism of reading – particularly the Enid Blyton tales of girls’ boarding schools. Winning a scholarship to Lady Margaret High School for Girls in Cardiff brought her dreams of an idyllic academic environment within reach. Here, she studied alongside mostly white, middle-class girls. But when Betty expressed the same ambitions as her classmates held, she was crushed. Always near the top of the class, Betty told her head-teacher she too would like to teach but the response was: "Oh my dear, the problems would be insurmountable." Those words devastated her - but they also made her even more resilient and focused. “I went back to my desk and I cried,” Campbell once recalled. “That was the first time I ever cried in school. But it made me more determined; I was going to be a teacher by hook or by crook.”
She overcame setbacks and racism to pursue her goal. In 1960 she was one of six female students at Cardiff Teacher Training College which was admitting women for the first time. Juggling a young family, she qualified as a teacher. When a teaching job became available in Butetown, Betty felt it was made for her - but she still faced hostility from some parents. “They hadn’t seen a black teacher before,” she said. “It was as if you could do a job, but if you’re black you’re weren’t quite as good.”
Yet again she defied her detractors by becoming the first black head teacher in Wales. She had made history. And now she wanted her pupils to know their history. Inspired by a trip to America, where she learned the story of former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman and other civil rights activists, Betty put black culture on her Cardiff curriculum. In a speech she later made at the National Assembly, she explained: “I was determined that I was going to become one of those people and enhance the black spirit, black culture as much as I could.”
Her pupils learned about the positive contribution to British society by people of colour. She also helped create Black History Month. As she once explained: “I looked at black history, the Caribbean, Africa and slavery and the effects. There were people that said: ‘You should not be teaching that.’ Why not? It happened. Children should be made aware.”
Betty’s fame spread beyond Wales as her school became a template for multicultural education. And her influence on public life grew when she became a member of the Home Office’s race advisory committee and a member of the Commission for Racial Equality. She also proved a passionate advocate for the people of Butetown as a councillor, as the community faced significant change through the development of Cardiff Bay. She remained committed to the heritage of Butetown and the importance of its multiculturalism throughout her life: “In our own unique way were establishing an area where religion, colour didn’t matter – we all respected each other as people.” No-one fought harder to celebrate Wales’ diversity than Betty Campbell.
We are hugely grateful to all our supporters who have donated toward the cost of the statue.
Thank you, in particular to: Welsh Government, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Rightacres Property Ltd, Legal & General, ISG Ltd, Hugh James, Eversheds Sutherland LLP, Blake Morgan LLP , The MoonDance Foundation and lots of individuals through our Go Fund Me page.
'Sir Robert McAlpine is proud to support the statue of such an outstanding champion of multiculturalism, Betty Campbell. We admire and take inspiration from Betty’s passion to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher against a background of prejudice. Much has changed since our inception 152 years ago and it is thanks to the courage and determination of people like Betty that vital progress is made.' Clare Gallagher, Sir Robert McAlpine Project Director
"Betty Campbell’s innovative ideas in education and inspired teaching have left an immense legacy to Cardiff’s cultural history and the battle for racial equality. Legal & General is equally passionate about tackling big societal problems to create a better future for all, while also driving direct accessibility and inclusivity within our industry. It has been a privilege for Legal & General to be part of this project, to create a fitting memory to someone whose story and actions in this community will inspire many generations to come.” Laura Mason, CEO Legal & General Retirement Institutional
"We're delighted to have supported the creation of the Betty Campbell statue. This is another important step in the redevelopment of Central Square, with the partnership of Rightacres and ISG helping to transform the gateway to our Capital through world-class architecture, new offices, accommodation and transport infrastructure, alongside outstanding public realm enhancements. The statue allows us to commemorate an important figure in our Welsh history and recognise the significant journey that this key area of the city has made in the last five years as a hub for innovation and creativity.” Jon James, Operational Improvement Director, ISG
"It’s an honour for Hugh James to be supporting such an inspirational project, which celebrates some great Welsh women. As Wales’ first black headteacher, Betty Campbell was a real-life monumental woman and we look forward to seeing her iconic statue displayed for generations to come. It’s also fitting that this important piece of history takes pride of place in Cardiff’s transformed Central Square district - the new gateway to our vibrant and multicultural City.” Alun Jones, Senior Partner, Hugh James
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