This post is by two people, yes I have friends… anyway, Stephen is from London, living in Bexley and currently completing a MSc in Consumer behavior. We’ve split this post between us, he is going to discuss The Cenotaph and I will discuss the statue of Edward Colston.
Here i’m going to talk about the defacing of war memorials, namely the cenotaph. The 3rd of June saw the defacement of the country’s most important symbol of peace. A tangible place for people to mourn, a symbol of liberty that this generation have because of those who died in both world wars. So why deface it?
It would appear that the youth of today have forgotten the sacrifices made by our forefathers. Those individuals (of course it was not every protestor) that desecrated the cenotaph have forgotten how peace, liberty and freedom were earned in this country, and this very act destroys their cause. For many, the sight of BLM protestors openly climbing onto the cenotaph will be a bitter pill to swallow. Irrespective of cause, and why such protests are happening, the cenotaph is a symbol of peace fought for against fascism.
Such actions have not and will not help an international human rights movement when such people died for such rights to be heard.
Ok so yesterday a statue in Bristol was toppled… that’s it that’s the blog.
Quick Background, Edward Colston:
Member of the Royal African Company
Donated considerable amounts of money to the city
Founded a school, two almshouses and gave money to schools, churches, hospitals and so on.
It’s clear just from that brief list why he was celebrated in Bristol, his wealth was seen to help more people than he had hurt, some type of attempt at giving him a redemption, however his wealth would not have been what it was without the slave trade.
So, a lot of responses to the removal of this statue have been that it should have been done by the authorities after a discussion and essentially the approval by the council to remove it. The debate regarding this statue has been going on for years, constant attempts have been made to have it removed that have come to nothing.
This debate has now clearly crossed with the Black Lives Matter movement and resulted in the statue ending up in the harbor… a bit like the bodies of over 20,000 slaves that died whilst being transported by Edward Colton’s company… they were thrown into the water too, some still alive when they were thrown in.
There’s a great thread on twitter that explains the back and forth with this statue and Bristol city council over the last few years by @katewilliamsme.
This argument is much bigger than the statue, there are over 10 other buildings, roads etc. named after Edward Colston and that’s just focusing on the Colston name, Colston Hall was already announced to be renamed in 2017 ready for its opening this year.
It’s so important to understand Bristol’s history, especially with regards to the Slave Trade, but the name shouldn’t be celebrated around statues and roads and buildings. It’s not about erasing the history it’s about removing the celebration of it. this is not a random act of vandalism this is the result of years of failed peaceful attempts at change.