Several UK companies acknowledged their slave trade ties this week and have offered financial support to black communities. The companies highlighted in a University College London database which explored the legacies of British slave ownership, making a considerable contribution to European/ British wealth.
Even though the number is believed to be higher Britain enslaved 3.1 million Africans between 1640 and 1807, transporting them to colonies around the world against their will, Historic England, a public body records. Many Africans taken to the Caribbean were forced to work on sugar plantations, making plantation owners very wealthy through exportation of sugar, molasses, rum and cotton.
When slavery was abolished in 1833, the British government saw fit to compensate slave owners to the value of £20 million, while Africans who had been enslaved received nothing. Today the value of that compensation equates to roughly £16.5 billion.
With the Black Lives Matter protests have erupting across the United Kingdom in the last couple of week, demonstrators tearing down a statue of seventeenth century slave traders like Edward Colston and calling for the removal of other monuments has opened up the conversation around the UK involvement in slavery.
“The slave-owners were one very important means by which the fruits of slavery were transmitted to metropolitan Britain,” University College London said.
The university’s database showed former governors and directors of the Bank of England owned slaves and how these individuals were compensated by the UK government when slavery was abolished, including being given several thousand pounds to free their slaves.
Bank of England spokesman said in a statement on Friday that the eighteenth and nineteenth century (African) slave trade was an “unacceptable” part of English history and apologized for the role played by former governors and directors. The central bank intend to take down images of former governors and directors who were involved in the slave trade if on display anywhere in the Bank, the spokesperson said.
Churches and cathedrals are looking how to address the issues raised recently when it comes to monuments, the Church of England’s director of cathedrals and church buildings, Becky Clark. “This may include the alteration of removal of monuments, but this must be done “safely and legally,”
A growing number of companies are giving employees a paid day off to celebrate Juneteenth which was made official in the USA recently.
A spokesperson for the Church of England. “Slavery and exploitation have no place in society, while we recognise the leading role clergy and active members of the Church of England played in securing the abolition of slavery, it is a source of shame that others within the Church actively perpetrated slavery and profited from”
The Church of England first issued an apology in 2006, acknowledging the part it played in slavery, they are now working to end modern day slavery. Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, and major pub chain Greene King acknowledged their ties to the slave trade, with Lloyds pledging to help black communities.