Renaming James Gillespies High School

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As protests against racism have erupted acorss the world in the past few weeks, it is time that we reflect on the history of our school and consider the changes that we can make in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

For those who don't know, James Gillespie became one of the richest men in Edinburgh by selling Virginia tobacco and snuff - products of slave labour. This makes him a direct contributor and benefactor of the slave trade. It is possible that Gillespie may have owned slaves himself. 

It's time that we change the name of our school to something that truly "values the diversity that exists" within our school. This is not an attempt to cover up our history, rather a way of saying that we don't believe that this man is someone who should be celebrated anymore. Education on our school's history should part of our curriculum, but a man who made his wealth at the expense of others' lives is not something we should be proud of. Our main building is named after Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai - an activist and truly inspiring woman, who's defiance and bravery represent our school values far better than Gillespie. 

A primary school in Bristol which was named after Edward Colson, who transported over 80,000 slaves across the atlantic, changed it's name last year, and it was his statue that was taken down in Bristol at the weekend. As our society changes, our perspective on history does too, and we should all be taking an active part in standing against racism. These small things will become a catalyst for permanent change in Scotland and beyond.