The City of London is looking into the removal of statues and other landmarks linked with Britain’s slave trade past.
We think it’s high time to say goodbye to statues of slave traders and fortunately, the City of London agrees. The Black Lives Matter protests this summer have forced British authorities to address the country’s past links to slavery, and London’s statues are a great place to start the assessment.
The City of London is taking matters into its own hands and may tear down statues and other landmarks with historical connections to slavery and racism. Consequently, the governing body in charge of London’s historic financial district is soliciting views on the removal of these monuments, to ascertain public opinion before making their recommendations.
Andrien Meyers, the co-chair of the City’s Tackling Racism Taskforce, said: “We know that historical symbols continue to have an impact today and we want to understand how people feel about this aspect of our cultural history.”
The City of London Corporation has since launched a three-month consultation that could lead to the removal of these statues, memorials, and landmarks, as well as street and building names, depending on the responses collected.
At the height of the BLM protests, monuments associated with slavery were targeted worldwide. Several were torn down by demonstrators, including the Edward Colston statue in Bristol, and civic authorities removed others. London is no exception. In June, a public petition circulated calling for the removal of a statue of William Beckford, the largest slave owner in the 1760s – however, the government refused the petition, claiming it was a matter for the local authority. More recently and successfully, a statue of the 18th-century slave trader, Robert Milligan, was removed from outside a museum in the Docklands. After a petition gained nearly 6,000 signatures, the statue of Milligan was officially removed by governments.
With any luck, statues linked to slavery may become a thing of the past – in the City of London at least!