Below is a briefing from the Council on the work of The Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review Group, chaired by Professor Sir Geoff Palmer OBE. As Black History Month draws to a close, the Group has launched a survey to allow people in Edinburgh to inform its work.
We have a duty to be open and honest about Edinburgh links with slavery and colonialism, and to understand what the perception is now and what could make it better. This need not be about destroying our heritage, but we have to reflect on how it is funded and ensure everyone feels valued, welcomed and safe in our city.
Citizens are being encouraged to have their say on the Capital’s historical links to slavery and colonialism and how they should be remembered and addressed in today’s Edinburgh.
In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement brought international attention to important issues relating to ongoing racism in society. As part of a wider response to the movement, the City of Edinburgh Council committed to ensuring that commemorations of Edinburgh’s history are appropriate for society today – and future generations. The Council therefore commissioned an independent review of the City’s historic links with Slavery and Colonialism in the public realm.
As part of its work, the Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review Group is seeking the views of Edinburgh residents and stakeholders about a selection of prominent features which it considers representative of the many aspects of Edinburgh life and society shaped by this legacy. It wants to hear thoughts about the most constructive ways that the City could address this history for the benefit of all in the future.
Whilst there are a significant number of monuments, buildings, street names and other features in the public spaces of the Capital today which could be considered, this consultation does not try to reference every one of these. Instead, it provides a representative selection of 41, separated into different themes or relating to a particular aspect of this history. For example, international trade and the profits from slavery and colonialism, the role of the military in sustaining slavery and colonialism and inspiring individual stories.
The Group hopes that this approach will help to illustrate the many different elements of Edinburgh life which have been touched by the legacy of slavery or colonialism.
The online consultation is hosted on the Council’s website here. It is open for 12 weeks from 27 October 2021 to 19 January 2022.