One year on from the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston being pulled down during the Black Lives Matter protests and dragged to drop in the harbourside, the damaged statue has now been displayed in Bristol’s M Shed.
I’m pleased that this is now the focus of a discussion for Bristol people on how we want to commemorate and make sense of our past, including the difficult parts. You can all take part in this discussion. There is an online display of the exhibit alongside a survey for you to give your ideas and suggestions.
There are so many people who are key figures in our history as a city and as a country – good and bad and everything in between. Being able to mark, think about and make collective sense of something as terrible as slavery and the impact it has had on Bristol and the people of Bristol is important. It will need to include thinking about and discussing people like Colston but also importantly the people who were slaves, their ancestors and the legacy of racism that slavery left. This needs to be an honest discussion about slavery which isn’t just about the campaign to end it – and similarly with our history of colonialism.
I appreciate the exhibition of the statue in its damaged state, alongside other objects marking the protests which led to its removal. This, too, is an important part of our history. This process will not have a fixed end but it is one in which we can all play a meaningful role. We won’t all agree but part of what makes Bristol such a great place to live is that we are able to respect each other across our differences and be willing to learn from them.
I encourage everyone, whatever your views, to visit the exhibition in person or online and to take part in the survey.