Removal of statues in Birmingham (UK) linked to the slave trade or colonial history

Removal of statues in Birmingham (UK) linked to the slave trade or colonial history

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Birmingham Anti-Racist Campaign (BARC) started this petition to Councillor Ian Ward (Leader of Birmingham City Council)

Birmingham is one of the most diverse cities in the UK.  We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protestors in Bristol who pulled down the statue of slave trader, Edward Colston. Our city is littered with statues of men who remind us of the painful and murderous links with slavery and colonialism. This bloody history should be acknowledged and taught in all Birmingham schools but from an anti-colonial perspective, so that our children can learn the true lessons of the past. However, these men should not be immortalised in statues.

In acknowledging 'Black Lives Matter', we have three demands. We want Birmingham City Council to;

1. Follow other cities and remove all memorials which glorify those linked with slavery and British colonial history. We also want all universities, colleges and schools in our city remove statues and rename buildings which glorify or are named after men who have instigated, profited, or benefitted from slavery and colonialism. We believe these relics from the past should be placed in museums and recontextualised.

These include; 

i. The Boer War Memorial in Cannon Hill Park - The Boer War was a blood war fought between the British and Boers in South Africa over gold. Black Africans ultimately paid the price with lost their lives and land. During the conflict the British promised that in return for support, or at least neutrality, black Africans would be rewarded with political rights after the war. Nevertheless, the Treaty of Vereeniging specifically excluded black Africans from having political rights in a reorganized South Africa as the British and Boers cooperated toward a common goal of white minority rule.

http://www.thejournalist.org.za/pioneers/erasure-of-black-suffering-in-anglo-boer-war

ii. Horatio Nelson's Statue outside the Bull Ring - Nelson was a white supremacist and defender of slavery. 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/22/toppling-statues-nelsons-column-should-be-next-slavery

iii. James Watt memorials (including James Watt School) - James Watts father was a wealthy colonial merchant and involved the transatlantic slave trade. James Watt benefitted from this and was directly involved in the transportation of a young male slave.

https://historywm.com/podcasts/james-watt-and-slavery-the-untold-story

iv. Matthew Boulton memorials ( Including Oasis Boulton School) - Boulton together with Watt sold machinery to transatlantic slave plantation owners and therefore profited from slavery.

https://www.academia.edu/11971864/Three_Continents_One_History_Birmingham_and_the_Transatlantic_Slave_Trade

https://historywm.com/podcasts/james-watt-and-slavery-the-untold-story

v. Birmingham Curzon Street Station and the Curzon Building (BCU) - named after Lord George Curzon the Colonial Viceroy of India who presided over the partition of Bengal and during the 'Bengal Famine' in which an estimated 10 million people died.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2001/feb/11/naturaldisasters.comment

vi.  Memorials named after Joseph Chamberlain (Six Form College, Square and Clock Tower named) - Chamberlain was the Colonial Secretary of Britain between 1895-1903. He often referred to Black people as 'barbaric' and was responsible for promoting empire building in Asia, Africa and the West Indies and exploiting them for British gain.

https://salemcc.instructure.com/courses/451/pages/joseph-chamberlain-birmingham-speech-on-the-need-for-foreign-markets

For more information:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/content/articles/2007/03/03/did_birmingham_profit_feature.shtml

2. Work with schools and educational establishments to ensure school children in Birmingham are taught history from an anti-colonial perspective.

3. Whilst the removal of statues is a symbolic statement - this alone will not tackle the racism, discrimination and disadvantage faced by Black and minority communities within our city. We therefire ask BCC to commit to tackleing structural and systemic racism which is leading to inequalities in health, housing, employment and educational, etc within our city. 

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