International Awareness of City’s Slavery Role

Pick of the News

William Beckford, owner of 3,000 slaves; statue
prominently placed in Guildhall

There is growing international awareness of London’s past, and deep, connections with the slave trade. For example, this week we noticed:

The awareness appears to arise from international revulsion at the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis policeman. That precipitated widespread reflection upon the discrimination suffered by black people, including during slavery. And that in turn has precipitated reflection upon The City’s involvement in slavery.

The City profited greatly from the slave trade, and more importantly, from the low-cost labour of slaves in the Caribbean and the Americas. You don’t have to look far to find signs of this. Consider, for example the statue of William Beckford, which is prominently placed in Guildhall. He was Lord Mayor in 1762 and 1769, and owned some 3,000 slaves.

This is a story that won’t go away. It is good that The City is facing the issue openly.

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