Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, supports a new museum of slavery in the city

Sadiq Khan backs London slavery museum

Rebecca Atkinson, 14.08.2019
New museum would tackle racism and legacy of colonialism, mayor says
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has backed proposals for a British slavery museum in the UK capital, which he says would challenge contemporary racism as well as the legacy of colonialism.

The new museum was one of several proposals made to Khan in a report published by the Fabian Society, a left wing thinktank, last month. The report aims to set out what Khan's priorities should be if he is re-elected for a second term.

In the Capital Gains report, Omar Khan, director of the equality thinktank Runnymede, writes: “It is unacceptable that the capital city of a nation that built a global empire and its wealth in large part as a result of its role in the slave trade has no significant museum or monument marking the role that London and Britain played in these historic atrocities”.

He continues: “It is no surprise that the British public has no real understanding of the role we played in facilitating the slave trade and its terrible impact on millions of people… The British government (and London’s financial sector) would have a moral obligation to assist the mayor in seeing that such a memorial is built.”

Sadiq Khan took to social media to back the proposal, tweeting: “Acknowledging Britain’s role in the slave trade is key to challenging racist ideology and deepening our understanding of the past.

“That's why I’m backing @thefabians proposal for a British slavery museum in London.”

In a longer response, he said: “It’s right and fair that all Londoners see themselves and their history reflected in our city’s museums and cultural institutions.

"Learning more about the uncomfortable nature of our city and our nation’s role in the transatlantic slave trade can serve to deepen our understanding of the past and strengthen our commitment to fight racism and hatred in all its forms."

The International Slavery Museum, which is part of National Museums Liverpool and tells the story of the city's role in the transatlantic slave trade, posted its response on Twitter.


Elsewhere, Tottenham's Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “I warmly welcome proposals for a London slavery museum. So often, whether it comes in the form of hate speech or government policy, racism is the product of ignorance. We all need to educate ourselves about this country’s colonial past.”

Comments

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17.08.2019, 00:55
The ISM has been very generous in its tweet. There have been guides in their city offering tours to locals and visitors for over twenty years highlighting Liverpool's involvement in the slave trade and the International Slavery Museum has been introducing people to Britain's often overlooked imperial history for over ten years.

Bristol was home to the short-lived British Empire and Commonwealth Museum which explored this history until it disappeared into storage following a failed attempt to move to London. Wilberforce House in Hull also explores Britain's links to the slave trade and the rise of the abolition movement. Back in 2007-08 many museums across the UK marked the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade by exploring the history of slavery. The National Waterfront Museum Swansea created a touring exhibition, Everywhere in Chains, about Wales and the Slave Trade that visited Wrexham to which we added local material connected to the triangular trade. One wonders why the Fabian Society and Sadiq Khan have taken so longer to catch on? I guess better late than never...


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