Statues should remain in order to educate
A leading conservation charity wants Edinburgh’s statues with links to the slave trade to remain to preserve “the historic fabric of the city.”
Edinburgh World Heritage spoke out as the city council reviews the capital’s statues and memorials to traders with links to slavery.
The Black Lives Matter movement sparked protests at the Melville Monument, which commemorates Henry Dundas, believed by many historians to have played a key role in delaying the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade while he was home secretary in the 1790s.
Other statues linked to slavery and colonialism by the review panel include William Pitt the Younger on George Street, David Livingstone in Princes Street Gardens, General John Hope in St Andrew Square, and David Hume on the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh World Heritage, a charity funded by the council and Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We believe that acknowledging and representing Edinburgh’s historical relationship with slavery and colonialism is important and long overdue.
“As independent heritage experts, it is our view that in order to address historic racial injustice represented in our public spaces, the city of Edinburgh should conserve elements of the public realm associated with slavery and colonialism, but challenge them through new understanding, interpretation and education.
“This approach preserves the valued historic fabric of the city, while also creating opportunities to stimulate important discourse and encourage education about the city’s past. It is imperative we actively engage with all of Edinburgh’s history and consider how it is represented in the public realm.
“We must also ensure the process is evidence-based, balanced, and informed by the views of a diverse range of stakeholders, particularly those of under-represented communities.”