11 March 2021

John Barnes MBE delivers a passionate and interactive lecture on the history of race and prejudice to Birkenhead School Sixth Form.

By Jim, Lower Sixth Student.

John Barnes is an internationally recognised household name for his achievements whilst a player at Liverpool Football Club, where he picked up two First Division titles, two FA Cups, a League Cup and three FA Charity Shields. As well as winning personal accolades such as PFA Player’s Player of the Year in 1988 and was included in the PFA First Division Team of the Year in 1988, 1990 and 1991.

It was truly an honour to have such a prestigious guest speaker to take part in the Nicholl’s Lecture Series for our Sixth Form. John began the lecture by diving into the historical aspects of racism and prejudice in the UK and around the world. He addressed issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement, which sparked mass protests last May following the killing of George Floyd, and why athletes taking a knee prior to sporting events, is only raising awareness of the issue of racism, however won’t lead to the change he believed was necessary in the fight against racism.

Mr Barnes continued by sharing personal experiences of racism he faced on and off the pitch, including an infamous recollection of his, when a football supporter threw a banana aimed at him when playing football for Liverpool, and that he had recieved racist abuse from opposition players throughout his playing career.

To conclude the lecture, John answered many questions from the eager Sixth Form, through a virtual Q&A session.

On behalf of Birkenhead School, we thank Mr Barnes for taking time to speak with us, who educated all of us, providing fresh perspectives on a critical issue facing the world.

The Nicholls Lecture Series forms part of the School’s Inspiring Talks Series, which sees high-profile individuals visit the School to speak to students and the wider community. Recent guests have included: Konnie Huq, Lisa Williamson, George Alagiah, Nikki Henderson, Joe Wicks and Old Birkonian and former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones.