University of Bristol to appoint a don to research the institution’s links to the slave trade

The University of Bristol is to order an examination in to its historical links to slavery.

The move, which follows a similar announcement by the University of Cambridge last week, comes as the city looks to get to grips with its key role in the slave trade. 

The university will advertise for a permanent academic position looking at the history of slavery. 

The University of Bristol, pictured, is follow to examine its historical links to slavery

The University of Bristol, pictured, is follow to examine its historical links to slavery

The University of Bristol, pictured, is follow to examine its historical links to slavery

The scholar that gets the job will lead efforts by staff to ‘explore, investigate and determine the university’s historical links to slavery’, the Observer reported. 

Explaining the move on their website, the university estimates that around 85 per cent of the wealth used to found the institution depended on the labour of slaves.  

A dolphin symbolising the family of slave trader Edward Colston features on the university’s crest and a statue of Colston stands in the centre of Bristol.

In his role with the Royal African Company, Colston’s ships transported around 80,000 slaves from Africa to the Caribbean and America.

Around 20,000 of them, including around 3,000 or more children, died during the journeys.

One of the outcomes of the project could be to change the university’s crest.

The move, which follows a similar announcement by the University of Cambridge last week, comes as the city looks to get to grips with its key role in the slave trade. Above: the Wills Memorial Building, which is named after the Wills family, who shipped tobacco grown by slaves from the New World into Bristol

The move, which follows a similar announcement by the University of Cambridge last week, comes as the city looks to get to grips with its key role in the slave trade. Above: the Wills Memorial Building, which is named after the Wills family, who shipped tobacco grown by slaves from the New World into Bristol

The move, which follows a similar announcement by the University of Cambridge last week, comes as the city looks to get to grips with its key role in the slave trade. Above: the Wills Memorial Building, which is named after the Wills family, who shipped tobacco grown by slaves from the New World into Bristol

Another option would be to rename the Wills Memorial Building, which is named after the Wills family, who shipped tobacco grown by slaves from the New World into Bristol.  

The wider city was one of three integral ports for British slave trades, alongside London and Liverpool, and political leaders are now looking to built a ‘permanent memorial’ to its role.  

However, Cambridge University’s announcement last week of a two-year study into its own ties with slavery drew criticism after a white academic was appointed to oversee it.

In his role with the Royal African Company, slave trader Edward Colston's ships transported around 80,000 slaves from Africa to the Caribbean and America. Above: a statue of Colston stands in the centre of Bristol

In his role with the Royal African Company, slave trader Edward Colston's ships transported around 80,000 slaves from Africa to the Caribbean and America. Above: a statue of Colston stands in the centre of Bristol

In his role with the Royal African Company, slave trader Edward Colston’s ships transported around 80,000 slaves from Africa to the Caribbean and America. Above: a statue of Colston stands in the centre of Bristol

A dolphin symbolising the family of slave trader Edward Colston features on the university's crest and a statue of Colston stands in the centre of Bristol

A dolphin symbolising the family of slave trader Edward Colston features on the university's crest and a statue of Colston stands in the centre of Bristol

A dolphin symbolising the family of slave trader Edward Colston features on the university’s crest and a statue of Colston stands in the centre of Bristol

Trevor Philips, the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said that not appointing a black academic was ‘bizarre’.   

Mr Philips told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It is bizarre that, if they are trying to send a signal about what they are like, they couldn’t find a black academic to lead this.

‘That would have sent a great signal to the world that Cambridge understands that black folks are not just great entertainers or sportspeople, but that we can also be brainy.’       

Edward Colston: Beloved son of Bristol and wealthy slave trader

Edward Colston was integral in the Royal African Company, which had complete control of Britain's slave trade

Edward Colston was integral in the Royal African Company, which had complete control of Britain's slave trade

Edward Colston was integral in the Royal African Company, which had complete control of Britain’s slave trade

Edward Colston was born to a wealthy merchant family in Bristol, 1636.

After working as an apprentice at a livery company he began to explore the shipping industry and started up his own business.

He later joined the Royal African Company and rose up the ranks to Deputy Governor.

The Company had complete control of Britain’s slave trade, as well as its gold and Ivory business, with Africa and the forts on the coast of west Africa.

During his tenure at the Company his ships transported around 80,000 slaves from Africa to the Caribbean and America.

Around 20,000 of them, including around 3,000 or more children, died during the journeys. 

Colston’s brother Thomas supplied the glass beads that were used to buy the slaves.

Colston became the Conservative MP for Bristol in 1710 but stood only for one term, due to old age and ill health.

He used a lot of his wealth, accrued from his extensive slave trading, to build schools and almshouses in his home city.

A statue was erected in his honour as well as other buildings named after him, including Colston Hall.

However, after years of protests by campaigners and boycotts by artists the venue recently agreed to remove all reference of the trader. 

A a statue commemorating Colston in Bristol, a plaque reads: ‘Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city.’ 

It is now set to be joined by a second plaque linking Colston to the deaths of nearly 20,000 people. 

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