Edward Colston statue pulled down

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bjn
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by bjn » Sun Jan 09, 2022 8:17 am

So the best way to educate people about the history of slavery (and possibly other subjects) is to erect and tear down statues?

That seems and odd way to go about it, perhaps a better approach is to incorporate it into school syllabuses.

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Fishnut » Sun Jan 09, 2022 8:50 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 1:44 am
So if nothing had been named after Colston and there had been no statue, you would never have learned any of that stuff? I think that proves my point.
If we hadn't gone around venerating a load of slave traders and named a load of things after them the maybe our history would be a bit less reverential to them and determined to gloss over their actions, and I could have been taught the real history of the city without fear of upsetting powerful people.

And let's be honest, there's very little need for non-historians to be aware of people like Colston. Recognising where the wealth of our country came from is important. Knowing biographical info on all the players involved is less so.

Colston's importance to modern Bristol is far more the result of Victorian attempts to create a "glorious past" to the city than anything Colston did during his life. He barely lived here, he gave some money but that was the norm among rich men back then. He tried to influence local politics, also the norm among rich men back then. He was a major player in the slave trade which brought great riches to Bristol, but that was because we were a major port, not because Colston give the city an upper hand.

So yes, if they hadn't named things after him then it's likely I'd never have heard of him. But naming things doesn't mean you learn anything about the person who they're named after. If you even think about the person behind the name you assume they did something worthy and leave it there. Look around your own town and see how many roads are named after people. I bet there's more than you realise. And you likely know nothing about them. Naming things after people doesn't tell you anything about them. Even with Colston - venerated Colston, whose hair and nails were kept on display like holy relics, who had a day named after him where school children would go to the cathedral to be told how wonderful he is, who had schools and roads and multiple buildings named after him, who still has two statues standing in the city (one above the guildhall, the other above his tomb in a church) - historians are only now starting to study him. He is not a prominent historical figure and his prominence in the city far exceeds his prominence in life. Which isn't to downplay the suffering he oversaw or profited from, not at all. But his biography is the least important part of that story.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Gfamily » Sun Jan 09, 2022 10:56 am

A question came up in the family* over Christmas, as to whether the 'compensation' paid by the British government to slave owners under the 1837 Act was a driver of the Victorian expansion of industry.

As in, in much the same way as the insurance money flooding into Manchester following the IRA bombing acted as seed money for much of its changes in the first decade of this century, did the release of capital provide seed money for 19th century British growth?

*Well, me and my brother.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Fishnut » Sun Jan 09, 2022 11:59 am

I haven't looked into the details, though a cursory google search suggests that the money did have an impact on funding of industrialising projects, though the extent of that impact is debated among historians. But I do remember that during one of the history walks I did in Bristol last year there was a mention that some of the major investors into the Great Western Railway were using compensation money from their part in the slave trade.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Fishnut » Sun Jan 09, 2022 12:06 pm

This is a really good interview with Mark Steeds and Roger Ball from the Bristol Radical History Society. They talk about the research they've done on Colston and how that research was used by the defence in the trial of the Colston Four and how they hope this will affect the future of Bristol.

One thing they pointed out, which has been so easy to overlook, is that there were thousands of people who participated in pulling down the statue and dumping it in the harbour. The four on trial weren't ringleaders, they were just the people the were able to identify and decided to prosecute.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by warumich » Sun Jan 09, 2022 12:26 pm

There is a small statue in a corner of the municipal park in my hometown, which as a child (before google) I had always assumed to be a Prussian general or something.rurns out it was Theodor Mommsen, Nobel prize winning classicist and probably the only famous intellectual to be associated with our little shithole. Not that he'd ever been mentioned at school or anywhere else locally that I can remember.

Statues are not a good method of teaching history
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 09, 2022 8:29 pm

Stewart Lee wrote:The historian David Olusoga told the court about the “rape rooms” of the slaver fortresses on the African coast and explained how Colston’s company branded slaves as young as nine. Sticking a plaque on the bottom of a statue to acknowledge this would seem insane, an Elastoplast on a brain haemorrhage, a sick joke. Anyone with a heart reading it would surely wonder why the statue was still standing. At the site of Hitler’s bunker, next to a car park somewhere south of the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, there is no official commemoration, for obvious reasons. Presumably Johnson would favour a blue plaque that retained and explained.
In 2012, cowardly, woke council officials removed from the Scotstoun leisure centre in Glasgow a wooden effigy of Jimmy Savile, the predatory paedophile sex offender. New government policy surely means the Savile statue must be subject to the same “retain and explain” policy that Johnson has endorsed. The Savile sculpture must be retained and returned to its original position in the foyer of the leisure centre, with a small plaque appended to its foot, detailing Savile’s horrendous sex crimes. And if, as is thought, it transpires that the council destroyed the Savile effigy, then those responsible must be tried for criminal damage.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by dyqik » Sun Jan 09, 2022 8:56 pm

warumich wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 12:26 pm
There is a small statue in a corner of the municipal park in my hometown, which as a child (before google) I had always assumed to be a Prussian general or something.rurns out it was Theodor Mommsen, Nobel prize winning classicist and probably the only famous intellectual to be associated with our little shithole. Not that he'd ever been mentioned at school or anywhere else locally that I can remember.

Statues are not a good method of teaching history
There are no statues of individuals in my town, and I can't think of any in the nearby towns of Concord and Lexington, which have a rather important history. There are memorials, but not statues of individuals. There's also a house on my street with a plaque identifying as the home of one of the Minuteman officers.

There is a statue of Paul Revere near his house in the North End of Boston, but there's no statue of Washington at the Washington Elm on Cambridge Common, where he took command of the Continental Army. There is a Civil War memorial there with a statue of Lincoln, and a statue of a named puritan. And there's a rather controversial statue of Lincoln freeing the slaves in Boston that I think is either recently removed, or possibly about to be removed, as it's pretty patronizing.

There's probably a statue of Columbus in the North End as well, but Columbus and the Italian-American community is a whole other conversation.

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 09, 2022 9:22 pm

Winchester has a nice statue of king alfred.

I expect some "Viking lives matter" protestors will be along soon to topple it #rightwinghumour
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 09, 2022 9:23 pm

dyqik wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 8:56 pm
warumich wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 12:26 pm
There is a small statue in a corner of the municipal park in my hometown, which as a child (before google) I had always assumed to be a Prussian general or something.rurns out it was Theodor Mommsen, Nobel prize winning classicist and probably the only famous intellectual to be associated with our little shithole. Not that he'd ever been mentioned at school or anywhere else locally that I can remember.

Statues are not a good method of teaching history
There are no statues of individuals in my town, and I can't think of any in the nearby towns of Concord and Lexington, which have a rather important history. There are memorials, but not statues of individuals. There's also a house on my street with a plaque identifying as the home of one of the Minuteman officers.

There is a statue of Paul Revere near his house in the North End of Boston, but there's no statue of Washington at the Washington Elm on Cambridge Common, where he took command of the Continental Army. There is a Civil War memorial there with a statue of Lincoln, and a statue of a named puritan. And there's a rather controversial statue of Lincoln freeing the slaves in Boston that I think is either recently removed, or possibly about to be removed, as it's pretty patronizing.

There's probably a statue of Columbus in the North End as well, but Columbus and the Italian-American community is a whole other conversation.
I think Thoreau has done well out of this. When I die, instead of a statue I also want a shed.

(And he was an underground railroad activist so I think we're cool)
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Fishnut » Sun Jan 09, 2022 9:34 pm

I'm not sure where he got them from, but BarristerBlogger has the directions from the judge to the jury.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Tessa K » Sun Jan 09, 2022 10:18 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 9:22 pm
Winchester has a nice statue of king alfred.

I expect some "Viking lives matter" protestors will be along soon to topple it #rightwinghumour
Cake lives matter.

#obscureEarlyMediaevalHumour

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 09, 2022 11:47 pm

Tessa K wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 10:18 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 9:22 pm
Winchester has a nice statue of king alfred.

I expect some "Viking lives matter" protestors will be along soon to topple it #rightwinghumour
Cake lives matter.

#obscureEarlyMediaevalHumour
Pretty sure king alfreds cakes are under blm jurisdiction #funguygags
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by nekomatic » Mon Jan 10, 2022 1:12 am

Burnt Loaves Matter?
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by WFJ » Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:06 pm

Is there a historical figure with a more mundane legend associated with them than Alfred?

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by monkey » Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:39 pm

WFJ wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:06 pm
Is there a historical figure with a more mundane legend associated with them than Alfred?
Robert the Bruce watched a spider make a web.

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Little waster » Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:50 pm

monkey wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:39 pm
WFJ wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:06 pm
Is there a historical figure with a more mundane legend associated with them than Alfred?
Robert the Bruce watched a spider make a web.
Queen Elizabeth the 2nd never gets a round in.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by lpm » Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:59 pm

King Charles the 3rd once put toothpaste on his own toothbrush. Only once, mind.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by JQH » Mon Jan 10, 2022 5:46 pm

lpm wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:59 pm
King Charles the 3rd once put toothpaste on his own toothbrush. Only once, mind.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by dyqik » Mon Jan 10, 2022 5:50 pm

Little waster wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:50 pm
monkey wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:39 pm
WFJ wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:06 pm
Is there a historical figure with a more mundane legend associated with them than Alfred?
Robert the Bruce watched a spider make a web.
Queen Elizabeth the 2nd never gets a round in.
She brings her own gin and Dubonnet.

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Tessa K » Mon Jan 10, 2022 6:19 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 5:50 pm
Little waster wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:50 pm
monkey wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:39 pm


Robert the Bruce watched a spider make a web.
Queen Elizabeth the 2nd never gets a round in.
She brings her own gin and Dubonnet.
I thought it was her mum who was the gin fan

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by dyqik » Mon Jan 10, 2022 8:48 pm

Tessa K wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 6:19 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 5:50 pm
Little waster wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:50 pm


Queen Elizabeth the 2nd never gets a round in.
She brings her own gin and Dubonnet.
I thought it was her mum who was the gin fan
The Royal Family is rather big on handing down traditions.[citation needed]

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Fishnut » Mon Jan 10, 2022 9:06 pm

Another good piece from the Secret Barrister, using a fictional trial to explain the arguments of the prosecution and defence, and what the jury are supposed to deliberate.
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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Tessa K » Mon Jan 10, 2022 9:43 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 8:48 pm
Tessa K wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 6:19 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 5:50 pm


She brings her own gin and Dubonnet.
I thought it was her mum who was the gin fan
The Royal Family is rather big on handing down traditions.[citation needed]
And keeping the same genes in the family

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Re: Edward Colston statue pulled down

Post by Fishnut » Thu Feb 03, 2022 9:34 pm

The the 'We Are Bristol' History Commission has reported its findings of the consultation today.

13,984 people took part in the consultation: 55% from Bristol, 12% from the West of England, 22% from the rest of the UK and 2% from overseas. They worked hard to get a good cross-section of the city, even doing outreach in areas where they hadn't had a high response.

The Commission have made a series of recommendations, the TL:DR of which are to keep the statue in its current (graffitied, laid-down) state and put it in a contextualised exhibition in a museum. They also recommend a new plaque be installed on the plinth and have suggested text for it.

They found that overall, 74% of respondents wanted the statue kept in a museum, and 80% of Bristolians chose that option. 16% of Bristolians didn't want it in a museum and 3/4 of those wanted it cleaned and put back. Most of the rest either wanted it destroyed or hidden away.

Interestingly, despite the overwhelming consensus on the statue, the plinth has caused much more disagreement. The most popular option was to use it for temporary art installations with 49% of respondents and 58% of Bristolians either agreeing or strongly agreeing to that option. The other options of putting up a new artwork or sculpture, or removing the plinth in its entirety, were less popular. I really recommend reading the comments highlighted in the section (p37-42) as they're really thoughtful and show how much nuance people are capable of having.

The survey also asked people how they felt about the statue coming down. Much of the negative rhetoric has been that the statue was pulled down by a mob who didn't speak for the people of the city. Yet 65% of Bristolians feel either "positive" (15%) or "very positive" (50%) about the statue coming down. 36% of respondents overall felt negatively, compared with only 27% of Bristolians, mostly because of the way it came down, rather than the fact it was removed. They think they have detected the results of the "Save Our Statue" campaign but they don't appear to have impacted the results in any meaningful way (p43). The main factor that affected how people felt about the statue coming down was age - older people were less positive, though you had to be 75 or over before you were in the majority with your "very negative" views towards its coming down. In other words, the vast majority of the city is glad he's gone.

I'm honestly amazed and impressed that a full half of the local respondents were "very positive" about it coming down. It shows that despite how divided the city can seem, especially with a press determined to represent 'both sides', there is a consensus and that consensus is glad he's no longer being held in esteem. That consensus doesn't want us to pretend that history didn't happen, to shut the statue out of sight and out of mind, but instead wants to use him as an educational tool in a setting that can provide context. See, statues can teach us stuff after all.
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