Renewed calls to remove statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Oxford University students have relaunched a campaign to remove the statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College amid the anti-racism demonstrations.

The Rhodes Must Fall group argues that the university "does not currently uphold anti-racist values”.

In an open letter to the vice-chancellor, campaigners said: "The university has made only inconsequential inroads into tackling the material legacy of imperialism. 

"Many colleges and university institutions who have benefited from slavery and imperialism have made no attempts at reparation."

Rhodes was an imperialist, businessman and politician who annexed a significant amount of land in southern Africa in the late 19th Century. Some Oxford University scholarships are still financed in his name.

Oriel College said in a statement today that it "abhors racism and discrimination in all its forms".

It said: "As a college, we continue to debate and discuss the issues raised by the presence on our site of examples of contested heritage relating to Cecil Rhodes."

Thousands of people have signed two new petitions calling for the statue of the colonialist to be taken down, after the college resisted similar calls in 2016.

In a debate with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, anti-racist activist Lee Jasper said removing statues is a way to “recalibrate the cultural environment of Britain”.

He said: “It makes a statement that, there are some aspects of our past that we are not particularly proud of and we acknowledge that and we are making some level of reparations within the cultural-sphere to recognise that’s not where we are now and we look back sadly on those events.”

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