As a wave of Black Lives Matter protests sweeps across the globe, many Europeans are contemplating their history with slavery. Notably, protesters in Bristol, England, toppled the statue of slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it in a river to much praise – and some outrage. In response, the elusive artist Banksy has shared his proposal to replace the statue.
The Bristol-native artist took to Instagram yesterday to offer a solution for both “those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t.” Sharing an illustration (pictured above) of what this new statue should look like, Banksy explained, “We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”
Colston was a 17th-century slave trader whose work as an official in the Royal African Company directly involved him in the enslavement of an estimated 90,000 Africans – 19,000 of whom died in the “middle passage” across the Atlantic. However, his statue in Bristol was erected in 1895 – 170 years after his death – to celebrate his (debatable) philanthropic work. The plaque on the statue insists that it was “erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city.”
On June 8, 2020, protesters toppled the statue amid anti-racist protests.