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Mollie Hunte (1932-2015): Educator, Psychologist and Champion of Caribbean People, by Rebecca Adams

Mollie Hunte was an educational psychologist from British Guiana (now Guyana) born in 1932. She was a significant part of the Black Education Movement in the UK during the 1970s onwards and made a large impact on the African-Caribbean London community. She founded and co-founded a variety of community organisations which advocated for young black children in London during a time when they faced racism and prejudice within the UK education system.

Mollie Hunte began her career as an assistant teacher in Georgetown, Guyana in 1956. In 1961 she decided to immigrate to the UK to continue her higher education. Mollie didn’t have the financial means to be able to further her studies and see herself through university full time. Therefore, for twelve years she taught in infant, junior and three types of special schools whilst she completed her part time study from 1961 to 1973. She was extremely accomplished and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology at Birkbeck College (1965-1969), a MSc in Psychology of Education from the Institute of Education (1970-1972), an Advanced Diploma in Education from the University of Birmingham (1972-1973) and a MSc in Child Development and Education Psychology from the North East London Polytechnic, now the University of East London (1979-1980).

Mollie Hunte was employed as an educational psychologist at the London Borough of Ealing in 1973 until 1982 and then at the London Borough of Brent between 1982 and 1988. She was expected to produce reviews and assessments of children, liaise with teachers, schools and health authorities as well as provide aftercare services.

Mollie Hunte also founded and co-founded various community organisations designed to aid African-Caribbean families in education, health and employment. These included the Caribbean Parents Group, The Caribbean Parents Group Credit Union, Westphi Academy and PEV Consultancy.

The Caribbean Parents group (CPG) was formed in July 1975. It was a reaction to Ealing Council sending Black and Asian children outside their local catchment area to Special schools or, as they were called at the time, ‘Educationally Subnormal Schools’. Parents and teachers in Southall, Ealing came together to oppose this action, which they viewed as racist and an interference in their children’s education. The organisation was a pressure group which offered support for African-Caribbean parents and children in a mixture of services such as career advice and helping parents with their children’s learning. The original aims of the group included the goal to ‘promote good relationships between parents, and teachers and … acquaint parents with good educational practices.’ The group also organised regular member meetings and annual conferences on many topics such as ‘Black youngsters in the educational system’ and elderly care.

The Westphi Academy was launched in June 1990 at Acton College. The organisation was formed initially from the surnames of the founding members of the consultancy in West London. The academy provided a wide array of services including in-service training, interviewing techniques, interview skills, workshops in institutional development planning and workshops explaining the 1988 Education Reform Act. They also provided classroom organisation and practice, training for professionals working with black children and training for black governors and childcare.

In 1989 the PEV Consultancy was formed by Mollie Hunte herself to facilitate psychology educational and vocation services. The organisation offered training, consultations, assessments, tutoring, counselling, mock interviews and therapy. Mollie was a consultant within PEV. There are many examples within the archival collection which make it clear that Mollie’s expertise was needed and valued. She provided assessments of children and adults who felt that they were being neglected by the education system or individuals who had struggled with mental health issues or special needs which had not been identified previously.

The Caribbean Parents Group Credit Union (CPGCU) was formed by the members of the CPG in 1990, for people having an active and continuing association with the Caribbean Parents Group. The Credit union was intended to be a ‘financial base for ourselves and our children’ and allowed members to save as much as they wanted. The board of directors were appointed by members at annual general meetings and oversaw the running of the credit union. The credit committee were also elected at annual meetings and were responsible for considering loan applications and helping members with financial problems.

Although Mollie sadly passed away in 2015, through the organisations that she founded and co-founded, she helped to encourage support and nurturing for black children and their families. She campaigned for local authorities to include more multicultural history during the 1970s and 80s which could facilitate better learning for children of all backgrounds. She also advocated for, and bridged the gap between, Caribbean parents and students and the educational system, especially in the boroughs of Ealing, Hounslow and Hillingdon, with a particular focus on the way the schooling system was failing African-Caribbean children. Her impact and knowledge touched a wide range of individuals throughout London. Mollie Hunte’s contributions to the Black Education Movement and her work to support the black family lives on today in the continued work and campaigning for young black children to not be left behind.

The Mollie Hunte Collection was gifted by Mollie’s family in 2017 and was deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) in Islington. LMA is the is the principal archive for the city of London and Greater London area. The archive houses many collections, with the oldest record dating back to 1067, being the William Charter.  The collections cover a wide range of history such as social care records, parish records and business records to name a few. The physical collection is housed on site at the archive building in Islington.

More information on Moliie Hunte and her collection at the London Metropolitan Archives can be found here. 

Rebecca Adams is the archivist responsible for the Mollie Hunte Collection. She completed an undergraduate degree in English Literature and History from Goldsmiths University in 2016 and went on to complete her Masters in Archives and Records Management at University College London in 2018, graduating in 2019. She has been focusing solely on Mollie Hunte’s records and organising a launch event around the collection for 2021.

Image: Rebecca Adams explores the Mollie Hunte collection – courtesy of Rebecca Adams

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