'Emancipation Street' and 'Teach Colonial History' signs appear around Edinburgh from BLM activists
An unnamed grassroots activist group have hung alternative street signs on several streets and buildings with ties to Scotland’s slave trade around the Capital.
The signs which appeared around the city this morning have been placed near the Dundas Street sign, which they have dubbed Emancipation Street and Queensferry House, which has been given the sign Reparation House.
There are also call to action signs stating ‘Teach Colonial History’ at James Gillespie High School and ‘Honour Black Lives’ at Regent Terrace.
In a collective statement from the group who wish to remain anonymous they advised that they were ‘individuals of varying ethnicities, ages and backgrounds’ who are working together to see an end to racism in Scotland and further afield.
The aim of their action is to ‘pay homage to many enslaved people whose names, lives,deaths, families, stories and deeds were erased by history’ and ‘advance the conversation that has been brewing for countless decades and has come to the fore again more recently with themurder of George Floyd and the wave of Black Lives Matter protests which have moved across the globe.’
Earlier this month following the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter statues around the city depicting historical figures tied to the slave trade, such as Henry Dundas on the Melville Monument who was best known for delaying the abolition of the slave trade in the 18th centuty which resulted in an estimated 630,000 additional people being enslaved against their will, were vandalised with graffiti and there were several petitions to remove them.
Council leader Adam McVey said he would ‘feel no sense of loss’ should the statue atop the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square be removed, however wording has been decided upon to put a plaque on the monument to detail information about Dundas’ role in the slave trade.
In their statement the group added: “In re-naming these street signs, we are removing the names of the elite who do not deserve to be honoured for mass atrocities and honouring ideas of freedom, non-colonial education and an end to oppression.
“We stand with local activists and academics who have dedicated years of their own time,
study, passion and resources in researching this. The information is there - now it is time for Scottish authorities to let these experts take the lead.
“We demand that white Scottish society, in consultation and collaboration with communities, are given the tools to learn from the past: to ensure that they understand that it is down to them to bring down the structures that allow racism to flourish, so that black people can live free from oppression and injustice.
“We demand that Edinburgh streets named after people with links to slavery are changed to reflect Black history which is vibrant, diverse and about so much more than slavery.
“We demand that statues of slavers are removed and replaced with monuments to the people whose stories and lives were stolen.”
The City of Edinburgh Council have been contacted for comment.