Bristol, Colston and Colonial Trade, 1580-1780

Reblogged following the verdict on the damaging of the Colston statue at Bristol Crown Court on 5 January 2022. One of the acquitted defendants claimed that they had been ‘rectifying history’ and that the jury was ‘on the right side of history.’

Andrew James

Foreground: The ‘Drowning’ of Edward Colston, 2020

Above: Edward Colston’s statue towards Bristol harbour. Photograph from The Guardian Weekly, 12 June 2020, by Giulia Spadafora, Getty.

The heart-breaking, public and blatant murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020 has fuelled a storm of protests across the world. ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests have broken out across Britain and other European countries, where the reckoning has reopened questions about the legacies of empire, including the nature of the enslavement, brutalisation, and exploitation of African people. In many of these protests, statues in public squares have acted as focal points for public outrage. The most iconic moment in the British protests thus far has been the pulling down of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, a prominent slave-trader who died in 1721. To understand the true historical contexts of the Colston statue which was erected in…

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