The Rise and Fall of Edward Colston

Event Details
Date: , 2022
Price: Free
With: Roger Ball, Mark Steeds
Note: This event was not organised by BRHG.
Page Details
Section: Events
Projects: Edward Colston
Subjects: Slavery & Resistance
Tags: , , , ,
Posted: Modified:

Register for this online talk here.

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 as an icon in the Victorian period. It will then analyse the successful tactics of the Countering Colston campaign; how it 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.

This free lecture was organised by the University of Cardiff Exploring the Past project in collaboration with the Cardiff branch of the Historical Association.

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