7.00pm, Tues 13th December, Bishopsworth Library, Bishopsworth Rd, Bristol BS13 7LN
In November 2014 the Bishop of Bristol, preaching to school students, claimed that ‘speculation’ about the ‘business roots’ of the city’s philanthropic icon, Edward Colston, was merely ‘speculation’. These incendiary words inspired new historical research into Colston’s slave-trading activities and the origins of his role as a ‘City Father.’ They also led to the formation of the campaign group Countering Colston which challenged both the physical commemoration and memorialisation of his legacy.
This talk will expose Colston’s significant role in the transatlantic slave-trade and his reinvention by a business elite as an icon in the Victorian period. It will then outline the successful tactics of the Countering Colston campaigners, countered the arguments of Colston’s defenders, and dealt with the elite institutions that had ideological and financial interests in his legacy.
These elements were to play a critical part in public debates and a series of victories by campaigners, culminating in the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston by Black Lives Matter protestors in June 2020.