October is Black History Month (BHM), an annual celebration of the contributions of Black people to British society. To celebrate, we have featured interviews with people from within and outside the CPS. As Black History Month draws to a close, our fifth and final interview is with Grace Ononiwu CBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS West Midlands.
Have you ever had something happen to you that you thought was bad but it turned out to be for the best?
When I failed my O Levels, I was devastated. At the time, I thought it was the worst thing that ever happened. I felt I had let everyone down; I let myself down. However, it turned out to be one of the most important lessons that have stayed with me throughout my career journey. I learnt that doing just enough isn’t good enough. If you don’t apply yourself if you don’t work hard, the consequence is failure, and it isn’t a great feeling.
What would you most likely tell yourself at age 13?
Don’t stress so much worrying about what the future will bring. You are the future, be strong, be courageous because success comes to those who are brave enough to try.
What do you think about when you hear ‘Black History Month?’
It is a time to learn about the amazing and varied achievements of Black people, current and historical. To celebrate the contributions, they have made and acknowledge the very important shoulders we stand on.
Which Black person from history or today inspires you?
There are many, but if I had to choose it would be Dr Martin Luther King. His teachings, iconic speeches and his messages of unrelenting hope have stood the test of time.
What do you hope staff will learn from the activities planned for Black History Month?
I hope our people would have learnt something about Black history and its significance to the society we live in today. To recognise and respect the many contributions made that has helped shape the diverse environment, we have now come to know. It’s ok to be different. It brings a richness to who we are. Let’s translate this to our work, whether it’s how we interact with each other or the decisions we make in our casework. We must treat people with respect and treat them fairly, regardless of their background or circumstance.
Follow this link to read other interviews from our Black History Month interview series.