Glasgow City Council considering plans to set up museum of slavery

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Tara Gandhi
Deputy News Editor

Glasgow City Council “are poised to announce” plans to set up a museum about Glasgow’s links with the slave trade. This follows campaigns to raise awareness of the issue led by the likes of MSP Graham Campbell, who himself is descended from enslaved people in Jamaica. Campaigners have also requested plaques to be erected on statues and streets connected to slavery, many of which are named after “businessmen” who took part in the slave trade.

This move comes after Jamaican public figure, journalist, and broadcaster Earl Moxam warned that in the event of Scottish independence, Jamaica and other states such as Sierra Leone would likely seek reparations for the country’s involvement in the slave trade.

The location has not yet been decided but many have suggested the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (GoMA), which was once home to William Cunninghame, who made his wealth in the 18th century from the slave trade and tobacco plantations. Campbell agrees with this possible location, given the building’s history. “That is the obvious place,” he said, “The city must make a gesture.”

Zandra Yeaman of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), which is also campaigning for a museum on the topic, said there was a “growing recognition of the need to represent the realities of empire, colonialism, slavery and migration within mainstream heritage and history.”

“Cities like Liverpool, London and Bristol have found a way to address this through dedicated spaces – museums, archives and learning centres. We think it’s time Scotland had a space to fulfil this need.”

These discussions follow the release of a study by University of Glasgow into the links it has with the slave trade, and are set to continue following the BBC two-part documentary “Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame” which begins Tuesday 6 November.