Tuesday 11 August 2020

The Future of History

Making of a myth

The Slow Newscast investigates why the slaver Edward Colston got a statue in the first place – and why the hell it stayed up so long

By Basia Cummings

This episode of the Slow Newscast is part of Tortoise’s File on The Future of History, which considers what history should look like in the 21st Century – as a subject of study, but also an area of action and protest. To see the rest of the File’s contents, please tap here.

Making of a Myth, The Slow Newscast, 29'40

On 7 June 2020, Edward Colston fell. The statue of the slaver had stood in Bristol, England, since 1895 – until Black Lives Matter protesters used ropes and force to pull it down, and then roll it into the city’s harbour.

It was a moment that intensified a thousand questions about our past and how we memorialise it. It also partly inspired this week’s Tortoise File on the Future of History. But there is more to the story of the Colston statue than what we’ve seen this year. It has been a subject of controversy for decades now – in 1998, for instance, the words “Slave trader” were scrawled on its base.

For this week’s Slow Newscast, we travelled to Bristol to see the empty plinth – and to investigate how Colston managed to occupy that spot for so long. Listen above to our latest episode.

Illustrations by Tim Vyner

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