Audit uncovers slavery links to Welsh heritage

PA

More than 200 Welsh statues, streets and buildings have connections to the slave trade, a nationwide audit has found.

The review was ordered by First Minister Mark Drakeford following the death of George Floyd in the US and the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol during a series of Black Lives Matter protests.

It shows that the slave trade was embedded in the Welsh economy and society.

The audit identified 209 monuments, buildings or street names which commemorate people who were directly involved with slavery and the slave trade or opposed its abolition.

These include:

– 13 monuments, buildings, or street names commemorating people who took part in the African slave trade.

– 56 monuments, buildings, or street names commemorating people who owned or directly benefited from plantations or mines worked by the enslaved.

– 120 monuments, buildings, or street names commemorating people who opposed abolition of the slave trade or slavery.

– 20 monuments, buildings, or street names commemorating people accused of crimes against black people, notably in colonial Africa.

The audit, led by Gaynor Legall, found that commemorations of people connected with the slave trade are often shown without any accompanying interpretation to address matters of contention.

Without this, the figures are presented solely as role models rather than representatives of challenging aspects of the past.

The research also found there were few Welsh people of black or Asian heritage commemorated across Wales.

The audit also unearthed commemorations to anti-slavery activists across Wales, such as Henry Richard in Tregaron, street names for Samuel Romilly, and the Pantycelyn halls of residence at Aberystwyth University.

“While the tragic killing of George Floyd happened almost 4,000 miles away, it sparked global action that shone a light on racial inequality in society today,” Mr Drakeford said.

“That inequality exists in Welsh society too and we must work towards a Wales which is more equal.

“To help us do this, we need a clear understanding of the legacies of the slave trade and the British Empire.

“This audit provides important evidence which helps us establish an honest picture of our history.

“This is not about rewriting our past or naming and shaming. It is about learning from the events of the past. It is an opportunity for us to establish a mature relationship with our history and find a heritage which can be shared by us all.

“This is the first stage of a much bigger piece of work which will consider how we move forward with this information as we seek to honour and celebrate our diverse communities.”

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