Statues of slave owners and traders must not be taken down – keep the evidence of history

I DON’T want statues of slave owners or traders to be taken down, however evil their crimes.

If you remove the evidence you remove the deed.


The statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was pushed into Bristol Harbour during a protest[/caption]

These statues are our history — for both black and white people — so removing them is tampering with the past.

Slave traders Edward Colston and Robert Milligan, whose statues have been torn down, are part of black history, which is part of British history.

I was born in Jamaica and came to Britain aged 14 in 1955.

People have tried to exclude me but Jamaica has been part of the British story since 1655.

I object to the fact that someone would say I’ve got no British connections.

I’ve had a long career in academia specialising in the science of brewing and in 1989 became the first black professor in Scotland.

I’ve achieved six doctorates and been knighted.

Today I’m Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Scotland.


I’m an example of what can be achieved with good people around you and a bit of luck.

But I don’t think people’s lives should be dependent on luck.

We have prejudices in society that limit representation, education and opportunities for black people.

Last year I arrived in Edinburgh to give a lecture and the attendant at the door said: “What do you want?”

I said: “l’ve come to give a lecture.” She replied: “When?”

I said: “2pm.’ She said: “You can’t be because the lecture then is being given by Professor Sir Geoff Palmer.”

She’d never seen black people with any status. It’s the system which hasn’t educated her.

I don’t think that will change by pulling statues down. You might have made yourself feel better but that’s it.


I think in 50 or 100 years when black people look back they will realise that part of their history was removed.

And white racists don’t mind as it helps people forget slavery.

I don’t want people to take my view without asking me because that’s what we’re complaining about with Black Lives Matter.

How many people were asked about these actions?

I have been helping with a plaque for the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, which has a statue of Henry Dundas on top.

Dundas was a politician who obstructed the abolition of slavery by 15 years, which meant another 630,000 Africans were enslaved.

I want to put that under his name.

I was on the committee that put up a statue of Mary Seacole in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital opposite the House of Commons in London.

Mary was a Jamaican-born nurse who cared for British soldiers during the 19th century Crimean War.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has asked for a review into the city’s statues.

I would much rather a committee on removing deprivation.


The statue of Robert Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville is pictured with graffiti in Edinburgh[/caption]

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