Statues perpetuate the myths of the ‘Great Man’ school of history

Statues perpetuate the myths of the ‘Great Man’ school of history


On Sunday 7th June 2020, sparked by the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protestors marching to support the Black Lives Matter movement in Bristol tore down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston and threw it in the city’s harbour. This dramatic action thrust the city onto the global stage and put it at the forefront of an ongoing and bitter culture war.

David Olusoga OBE is a historian, writer, broadcaster, presenter and film-maker from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, now based in Bristol. His recent work includes the multi-series A House Through Time, Our NHS: A Hidden History, and the BAFTA award-winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners. He is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester and recently appeared as an expert witness for the defence in the trail of the ‘Colston four’, taken to court (and acquitted) for their role the removal of the Colson statue.

In this talk, he explored how the commemoration of individuals from our historical past remains a matter of continued and highly contested importance. Why do statues matter? And what should we do with them today?

This event was part of the ongoing Histories Stories & Voices project that explores how the city’s historical and current day diversity is reflected in the city’s public realm.

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