Scotland to Establish a Museum of Slavery #BlackLivesMatter

MSPs in the Scottish Parliament this week voted to call on the UK Government to suspend export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US. In the debate on June 10th it was also agreed that a Museum of Slavery would be established in Scotland.

Scottish Parliament FG

In an amendment proposed by the Scottish Greens and backed by SNP, Labour and LibDem colleagues the establishment of a museum to slavery in Scotland would help to address the lack of awareness of the country’s links to the slave trade.

Commenting on the decision by the Scottish Parliament, Co- convenor of the Greens, Patrick Harvie said:

“This is a significant moment, and shows a genuine recognition of the role Scotland has in acknowledging that Black Lives Matter, both on the streets of American cities and in the recognition of our colonial past.

“The Scottish Parliament has given a clear message to the UK Government tonight. We cannot in good conscience supply tear gas and rubber bullets to police forces involved in the systematic targeting of black people and anti-racism protesters. Those exports need to end.

“I’m looking forward to working with others to establish a museum to slavery, which shines a light on why our cities carry tributes and monuments to those involved in the slave trade. It is through education that we recognise the terrible atrocities of the past and show solidarity with our Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities as we build a sustainable future together.”

The debate which was introduced by the Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McElvie, was to show solidarity with the anti racism protests taking place across Scotland – and worldwide.

After amendments – the motion which the Scottish Parliament agreed to was as follows:

“That the Parliament understands and shares the deep concern and horror that many feel about racism and racial injustice and police brutality across the world;

expresses and shares the sympathy, grief and anger of so many at the death of George Floyd;

stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and considers that the UK Government must immediately suspend all export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US;

recognises that public protest should be conducted safely in the current public health crisis;

encourages people to continue to find safe ways to lend their voice to protest against racism in all its forms;

believes that there is a responsibility on us all to identify and dismantle barriers of structural racism that exist in our society and institutions;

agrees that it is up to all in society to tackle racism and advance race equality;

agrees that Scotland should establish a slavery museum to address our historic links to the slave trade;

regrets the fact that so many monuments and street names still celebrate the perpetrators and profiteers of slavery;

calls on all levels of government to work to address this toxic legacy;

believes that racism is a societal evil that we must all stand united against, and work to eradicate;

welcomes the establishment of the Scottish Government expert advisory group on COVID-19 and the impact on ethnic minority communities, and calls for action now to best support black and minority ethnic (BAME) workers and their families as the health and economic crisis unfolds and for the collection of detailed data through Public Health Scotland on the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups, to assist in identifying the reasons for differential impacts.”

You can watch the whole debate here:

2 replies »

  1. Something relevant………….

    From me……..

    “Thank you for taking action, and I hope these actions, continue to be taken.

    You mention a Museum of Slavery? This might be of interest –

    Slavery seen from the ‘other side’ as it were.

    In these strange times – keep on keeping on

    Thank you, again

    In reply to….

    From: Patrick Harvie MSP [] On Behalf Of Patrick Harvie MSP
    Sent: 10 June 2020 20:15
    To: Bernie Bell
    Subject: Black Lives Matter


    Dear Bernie,

    The Scottish Parliament has just voted to support my proposal calling for the UK to stop the export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to US police forces. We have all seen the shocking pictures of police brutality directed at black protestors in recent weeks, it is surely unconscionable that we would play any part in that.
    Please share

    I’m pleased that MSPs have also backed my proposal for Scotland to have its own museum of slavery. We are all too often unwilling or unable to confront our own historical involvement in brutal crimes, and while I’m sure that debates around street names and statues will continue, I believe that it is right that we must have institutions that allow us to put our history into the proper context, and come to terms with it.
    Please share
    In considering our past involvement in brutal racism, we must also acknowledge that racism continues today, and we must actively challenge it in all its forms. It’s clear to see in the way we treat immigrants and those seeking asylum in our country, and it’s clear to see in the five long years that Sheku Bayoh’s family have had to wait for justice. We must be bold and persistent in the action needed to prevail against racism.

    Patrick Harvie MSP

  2. I added my comment for two reasons – one – to show that People Power – public involvement – does work sometimes. And two – to mention the idea of a museum of slavery, presented by the peoples who were enslaved. They are often – with good intent – set up and presented by the societies that did the enslaving.

    I wasn’t trying to show off!

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