Historic moment as Bristol becomes first city to pass Slavery Reparation Motion outside London


By Emilie Robinson, Digital News Editor

Bristol Councillors will now write to Parliament asking for an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of inquiry to be set up to investigate how an ‘atonement and reparation’ plan would work.

A Bristol City Council meeting on Tuesday 2 March voted 47 to 12 in favour of the motion to address Bristol’s role in the ‘Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Afrikans.’

‘Reparations’ are not explicitly defined in the motion, instead Councillors are calling for ‘a process of repair which hears from many of the voices in our communities that have been impacted and are often not heard.’

Jendayi Serwah, of the Afrikan ConneXions Consortium explained, ‘We cannot emphasise enough the importance of Bristol’s support for the call to assert African heritage communities right to be heard through an all-party parliamentary commission of inquiry given the city’s role and complicity in the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved Africans.’

Cleo Lake, Former Lord Mayor and Green Councillor for Cotham ward, who presented the motion alongside Asher Craig, Labour Deputy Mayor, said: ‘It is of international significance that this cross party motion has passed. History is made. Bristol is now the first core city in the UK to give our support to the growing campaign for reparations.

‘The Council has voted to start a national conversation and re-examine our past. I want to be very clear this is not about rewriting history, but rather about casting a bright light on it.

‘But now the speeches have been made, the real work will begin and it’s up to all of us to deliver on the fine words in this motion.

‘Instead of clinging to comforting myths about Britain’s heritage, let’s face up to the reality of our history – let’s talk about it – and let’s learn from that to create a better future for all of us.

‘This is about equity and understanding. Reparation does include but goes beyond monetary compensation.’

Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees stressed while conversations on race are complex this ‘should not deter us from taking a first step down that path.’

However, Councillor Steve Smith, stated that the Conservative group within the Council was ‘unable to support this motion.’

Cllr Smith said: ‘We believe the motion risks exacerbating some divisions by promoting a binary view of the world when the reality is much more complicated.’

Date of ‘Colston 4’ trial confirmed for December

The motion passed by Bristol City Council comes eight months after the toppling of Bristol’s Edward Colston statue by protestors during the Black Lives Matter movement.

Featured Image: Rufus Atkins

What do you think of this historic motion?