In what is believed to be the first payment of its kind, Glasgow University is to pay £20m in reparations to atone for its historical links to the transatlantic slave trade. In what has described as a “bold, historic” move, it has signed an agreement with the University of the West Indies to fund a joint centre for development research. The University discovered last year it had benefited financially from Scottish slave traders in the 18th and 19th centuries by between £16.7m and £198m in today’s money. Graham Campbell, who became the city’s first councillor of African-Caribbean descent in 2017, welcomed the agreement. “Our mutual recognition of the appalling consequences of that past – an indictment of Scottish inhumanity over centuries towards enslaved Africans – are the justifications that are at the root of the modern-day racism that we fight now. This action is a necessary first step in the fight against institutionalised racism and discrimination in Scotland and the UK and for the international fight for reparative justice.” Read more here and here.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has endorsed a proposal for a British slavery museum in the city to help combat modern-day racism as "welcome and timely". The idea has come from the Fabian Society which says the museum could help address discrimination against London’s black and minority ethnic population by challenging centuries-old tropes about racial inferiority.
The Fabian Society report in which the suggestion is made quotes Omar Khan, the director of the Runnymede Trust: “Until and unless Britain comes to terms with this history it will be impossible to understand much less eradicate the views that continue to justify racial inequalities today. It is unacceptable that the capital city of a nation that built a global empire and its wealth in large part as a result of its role in the slave trade has no significant museum or monument marking the role that London and Britain played in these historic atrocities." Bristol, Liverpool and London were the three main cities to benefit from the slave trade. Both Bristol and Liverpool already have museums covering this aspect of our history.
David Olusoga, historian and presenter of the BBC Two documentary, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, also endorsed the proposed museum. “The impact of the slave trade and enslavement is already stamped onto the fabric of London, but in ways we have learnt not to notice. Britain played a central role in the Atlantic slave trade and the fortunes built on the back of slavery flowed back to Britain. A new museum, in the heart of the city, would help us to acknowledge a history that for the most part is hidden in plain sight.”
Omar Khan added history dictated that the government and London’s financial sector had a “moral obligation” to help fund a museum.
Read an article on this story here. Read the Fabian Society release here.
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