Some applauded the move, while others rejected what they called the “mining rule.”
For some, the statues have melted into the background of everyday life, but many are now wondering if they should still stand on their pedestals.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Tuesday a commission to examine the future of landmarks in the UK capital, including murals, street art, street names and statues.
The aim of the Public Empire Diversity Commission is to improve “the diversity in the public kingdom of London to ensure that the capital’s landmarks adequately reflect London’s achievements and diversity.”
Although these actions divided public opinion, they contained a growing conversation about what should happen to statues of individuals like Colston, who benefited from the suffering of many.
The statue of Winston Churchill in London’s Parliament Square is seen as sparse with the words “he was a racist” written after his name, following the Black Lives Matter demonstrations on June 7, 2020. Credit: Isabel Infantes / AFP / Getty Images
During Sunday’s Black Lives Matter protest, a statue of Churchill standing in London’s Parliament Square was littered with the words “… is a racist”.
Oriel College has so far retained this statue of Cecil Rhodes, despite an ongoing campaign to remove it. Credit: Carl Court / Getty Images
Cecil Rhodes, who helped build the British Empire in southern Africa, was immortalized in a statue in front of Oriel College, part of Oxford University.
Neither Oxford University nor Oriel College responded to CNN’s request for comment.
In 2015, a statue of Rhodes was removed from the campus of the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
“He represents the former colonial representative of this country – supremacy, racism, misogyny,” said Ramabina Mahapa, then president of the student group that led the campaign to remove the statue.
The poster was placed in protest at a statue of Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, expanding his racist views. Credit: jpi media
In Edinburgh, a statue of 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume is adorned with a poster outlining his views on white superiority.
Hume is considered one of the most prominent thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, and his bronze statue sits on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the city’s main Old Town thoroughfare.
But Hume’s reputation has waned in recent years, with an increased focus on his views on race. The sign left on the statue contains a line from Hume’s essay “National Characters” which says that he is “prone to suspicion of blacks … that he is naturally inferior to whites.”
Nelson’s column at the top of the statue of Admiral Horati Nelson rises above Trafalgar Square in central London. Credit: evenfh / Shutterstock
A statue of Scottish politician Henry Dundas stands above a monument to Melville in the city of Edinburgh.
Dundas, who has held a number of government duties, including foreign minister, is known for supporting the postponement of the abolition of slavery in the late 18th century.
Campaigners instead recommend that the streets be named after Scottish-Jamaican slave Joseph Knight, who successfully freed himself in the courts by proving that Scottish law does not recognize slavery.
William Gladstone served as British Prime Minister four times in the 19th century. His father was a slave owner. Credit: See pictures / Universal Images Group / Getty Images
The demolition of the statue is a time form of protest, from the demolition of the statue of Lenin when the USSR collapsed in 1989, to the fall of the monument to Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 2003.
These cases of destruction have been widely applauded in the Western world, but recent campaigns to remove statues of controversial figures in places like the US and the UK have divided public opinion.
An alternative approach has been taken in Paraguay, where artist Carlos Colombino has been asked to re-imagine a statue of former dictator General Alfred Stroessner who ruled the country from 1954 to 1989. Instead of simply destroying the monument, Colombino incorporated some of its most recognizable parts between two huge blocks cement as a memorial to the victims of the dictatorship.