Scottish University will pay $24.4 million in slavery reparations

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This is a pretty interesting development. It is hard to know if this is a genuine move or just PR but a Scottish University is going to pay £20 million (about $24.4 million USD) in slavery reparations to try and make up for the money it received as a direct result of slavery.

The World Economic Forum wrote:

Scotland’s University of Glasgow said on Friday it would spend 20 million pounds ($24.4 million) to make amends for the historic financial support it received from people who profited from the slave trade.

The university said it was co-founding a Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of the West Indies to host events, sponsor research work and raise public awareness about the history of slavery.

The money will be spent over the next 20 years, with funding mainly coming from research grants and donations.

“Talking about any institution’s or country’s historical links to slavery can be a difficult conversation but we felt it was a necessary one for our university to have,” said Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.

“While you can’t change the past, you can change (its) consequences.”

A donation of £100 paid on 23rd June 1870, made by Archibald Smith II of Jordanhill, who had interests in slave plantations in both Jamaica and Grenada. Image: Glasgow City Archives

A plaque at the Gilmorehill base of the university will mark that the building is built on the site of Gilmorehill House, which was owned by a notorious 18th century slaveowner.

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Last year the University of Glasgow said it had received up to the equivalent of 198 million pounds ($242 million) in today’s money from people who derived their wealth from slavery.

Glasgow said it deeply regretted this part of its past which clashed with its parallel history of support for the abolition of slavery, and started a programme of reparative justice.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century Glasgow professors John Millar, Patrick Wilson and John Young were active participants in Glasgow’s abolitionist movement. Millar sent two anti-slave trade petitions to parliament in 1788 and 1792.

In the biggest deportation in known history, weapons and gunpowder from Europe were swapped for millions of African slaves who were shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas. Ships returned to Europe with sugar, cotton and tobacco.

You can read the full article here.

So, what do you think about this? The $24.4 million isn’t even close to the calculations of how they benefitted but is the gesture one we as a community should be happy about?

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PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.



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