Black Lives Matter: statue of a slave trader replaced by that of a protester - 20 Minutes

The statue of a slave trader replaced by that of a demonstrator "Black Lives Matter": the symbol is strong. The sculpture of Edward Colston, a late 17th century slave trader, was unbolted in early June in Bristol (United Kingdom).

The man would have sold 100,000 slaves from West Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas between 1672 and 1689, before using his fortune to finance the development of Bristol, which has long earned him a reputation as a philanthropist. But the sculpture with its effigy, which had been controversial for years, ended at the bottom of the river on June 7, during demonstrations of the "Black Lives Matter" movement following the death at the end of May of George Floyd, a black American killed by a policeman.

Democratic consultation

To fill the void on the base of the statue, London artist Marc Quinn produced a sculpture in the likeness of Jen Reid, entitled "A Rise in Power" ("A Surge of Power"). This demonstrator was photographed with her fist raised on the empty plinth of the old statue of Edward Colston. The artist's teams installed the statue of the young black woman on the same base, without Bristol City Hall being aware of it.

"The statue that was installed today is the result of the work of a London artist, who neither asked for nor obtained permission," city mayor Marvin Rees said in a statement, who promised a great democratic consultation on the subject. "The future of the base of the statue and what needs to be installed there must be decided by the people of Bristol," he said.

A "damn cheeky" action

Present at the time of the installation of the statue which represents it, Jen Reid judged the action "simply incredible" and "damn cheeky". This will allow us to "continue the conversation" about the slave history of the United Kingdom, she told the Guardian daily .

“Jen had already created the statue when she stood on the base and raised her arm in the air. We crystallized it, ”said Marc Quinn.

The demonstrations of the "Black Lives Matter" movement were accompanied by a series of degradations of statues of personalities, disputed because of their involvement in the slave trade or racist statements. The fate of the statue of Edward Colston, rescued in June, has still not been determined.


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  • Statue
  • Slavery
  • Black Lives Matter
  • United Kingdom
  • Racism
  • 20 minutes video
  • World