According to today’s Evening Post one third of the seats at yesterday’s slavery abolition whitewash church service at Bristol Cathedral were empty.
850 tickets were apparently issued to “civic leaders” for the invitation-only event and 250 of them failed to show with no explanation. Was this an informal boycott of the event? Or could people just not be arsed to show up?
Either way it’s an embarrassment to Bristol City Council, organisers of Bristol’s Abolition 200 events. The city’s role in the slave trade is currently receiving national attention and it really looks like this city couldn’t give a toss about it.
Perhaps more attention should have been paid to Bristol’s Consortium of Black Groups. They represent a large proportion of the city’s black population and announced a ‘policy of non-compliance’ with the city council’s “stagey insensitive activities” as long ago as last year.
Elsewhere, last night seedy toff Dennis Burn, the Master of The Society of Merchant Venturers, showed up on a BBC Points West abolition television debate alongside a group of civic worthies.
The plummy voiced apologist for the slave trade was very much on the defensive. He claimed The Merchant Venturers merely ran Bristol docks and had no organising role in the slave trade itself, which is bollocks. He also tried to distance the Society from Edward Colston, depicting him as a minor figure who only attended two of their meetings.
The toff also declined to hand over the Venturers assets to the city as reparations for their role in the slave trade; forgot to point out that the two schools his organisation run in the city are privately run and for the offspring of toffs and the rich such as himself and he told black people in the audience they were welcome to come begging to his multi-million pound organisation for cash for youth projects if they wanted.
What a charmer.
Here’s a couple of articles around the abolition issue for those wanting to get beyond Barbara Janke’s Merchant Venturer worshipping white-civic-dignitaries-having-a-self-congratulatory-circle-jerk approach to the issues:
… The enslaved persons in the Americas were the first slaves since the days of the Romans whose condition of bondage and status as chattel was passed down from parent to child; and in a cruel irony, as the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans died out the price of the slaves who were already in place, working under horrendous conditions in the US, many Caribbean islands, and some South American nations, merely rose… And there was thus a strong incentive, until the whole institution of slavery was outlawed in the United States, which took several further decades, for slave-“owners” to try to breed their slave-stock as much as much possible, a matter to which many white men in slave-owning communities made a big personal contribution…
The Haunting Legacy of Slavery, Helena Cobban
… The steel workers of Sheffield opposed the slave trade in the 1790s; the United Irishmen did likewise. These were the allies of the Jamaicans, the vast number of Afro-Americans, and above all the Haitian slaves. These men and women waged near constant struggle in rebellion (1760s), in the War of Independence (1776), and in the Haitian revolution against slavery (1791-1803). The drama of the time arose from the possibility of revolutionary combinations of proletarians – Irish, African, English even against the lords of humankind…
An Amazing Disgrace, Peter Linebaugh