By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
Lambeth approved a motion to call on national Government to look into “atonement and reparations” for slavery at a council meeting on Wednesday.
The motion, brought forward by Green councillor Scott Ainslie and jointly prepared with Labour, calls on the Government to establish a commission to study the impact of UK’s transatlantic slave trade on “social, political and economic life”.
The council is calling for an all-party parliamentary commission of inquiry for truth and reparatory justice and will urge the Government to commit to “holistic reparations”.
The council resolved to support the “innovative work” carried out by the Runnymede Trust, the Black Curriculum and others to “engage young people and teachers with more expansive, representative and inclusive histories of Britain, and to overhaul the curriculum to better educate about the UK’s role in slavery”.
The council said that the UK “played a major role” in the transatlantic traffic in Enslaved Africans (TTEA), “which saw at least 15 million Africans forcibly trafficked to the Western Hemisphere with many thousands losing their lives during the crossing from Africa to the Americas on British ships”.
“A great deal of the wealth of the United Kingdom was founded on this vile crime against humanity, and the legacies of chattel, colonial and neocolonial forms of enslavement are still prevalent in our society today.
“We deplore a situation where the beneficiaries of the genocide and ecocide of African people and their environments, including many institutions and families in the UK, continue to benefit but have not made reparations, while the descendants of the victims continue to suffer racism, discrimination and inequality,” the motion states.
The council said that one of the “most visible and enduring” legacies of slavery, colonisation, and neocolonialism is the “systematic racism” that exists within Western societies, “which the Pan-African Liberation Movement, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the International Decade for People of African Descent Coalition UK and other organisations within black communities are campaigning to eliminate”.
It said that systemic racism is “ingrained in our society” and “manifests itself in inequality in education, housing, health, employment and the criminal justice system”, and is responsible for violent racism, such as the death of George Floyd at the hands of US police, or “institutional failings” to provide sufficient support and care for Black communities, “such as the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black people in the UK”.
The council said that while the UK abolished slavery in 1833, “it did so only after 200 years of profiting from it”.
“When abolishing slavery it paid £20 million, the equivalent of £17 billion today, to ‘compensate’ enslavers, whilst those which were enslaved were not compensated at all,” it said.
The council welcomed the move to conduct audits of all Lambeth’s public landmarks, statues roads names and works of art in the borough for any links with slavery by Cllr Sonia Winifred, cabinet member for equalities and culture.
It also welcomed the celebration of Windrush Day 2020 on June 22, and “the contribution of Cllr Winifred, Lambeth council, and organisations such as the Black Cultural Archives in campaigning for justice for the Windrush generation, and for a permanent Windrush memorial in Windrush Square”.
Pictured top: Cllr Sonia Winifred
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