Black Lives Matter and the Rhodes Must Fall Campaign in Bristol

  • 06 Pages
  • Published On: 11-12-2023
Introduction to the issue

The issue to be focused in the essay is “Black Life Matters” which is a decentralized political and social movement raised for protesting the violence and incidence of injustice towards the black people by the white individuals (Moore, 2020). The issue was mainly raised on June 7, 2020 when few of the protestors present in Bristol took the drastic step of tearing down the statue of Edward Colston who was a salve leader and dumping it into the harbour. This action led to instigate the rise of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign outside colleges in the next two weeks. According to the campaign, the demand was to remove the statue of Cecli Rhodes who was an imperialist and traded in slaves as it promotes support for racism (Hunt, 2020).

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign was originally developed in 2015 by the black students but it got dwindled after the students got busy elsewhere on graduating. The campaign was again ignited due to the influence of the current condition of dumping of the statue and racial motivated violence against George Floyd (Hunt, 2020). This issue was mainly raised by the oxford students out of the inspiration from the student activism organised in South Africa. They were seen to initiate the campaign of removing likeliness of Rhodes who was previously involved in taking abusing the black people (Moore, 2020). The removal of the statue of Rhodes in context to “Black Lives Matters” has further become an issue of argument because it has led to create differential thoughts and supports between people at the authorial level. This is evident as Robert Gildea who is a professor at the University of Oxford mentions removal of the statue would be avoiding savouring a historic moment. However, three other heads in college approved of the removal of the statue as they mentioned it would help to unglorify the fact of racism from the compound (Mohdin and Quinn, 2020). Thus, it can be seen that the “Black Lives Matters” has become a key issue because black people are initiating to fight back to get equal rights for them in the society and remove people in the history who are responsible for the racial condition. Moreover, it has led to hindered argument at the authoritarian level which may lead to greater rift in the campaign.

Possible solutions

One of the possible solutions mentioned by Hunt (2020) was that Cecli Rhodes statue be removed from the college campus and be established in a museum where its true actions in British history would be highlighted and informed to people. However, the solution forwarded by Moore (2020) was that the statue of Celic Rhodes is not to be removed and allow it to remain in the same position as removing statues would not allow people to avoid the comfortable truths. In contrast, the study by Mohdin and Quinn (2020) mentioned another solution for tackling “Black Lives Matters” is keeping the statue of Cecli Rhodes on the campus with modification to be developed regarding its description that would draw attention toward both the person good and bad deeds in the history while doing justice for the complicated debate.

Tow solutions not recommended

The solution forwarded by Hunt (2020) to remove the statue of Cecli Rhodes is not recommended to be accepted. This is because removing historical figures from the places is not going to solve the racism issue and would lead people to act in retreating from facing the uncomfortable truths rather than addressing them. This argument is supported in the study of Mohdin and Quinn (2020) where the authors mention that removal of historical statues from places led to act as erasure of history that is removal of historical facts from the time, in turn, creating gap in historical details of understanding among the people. This is evident as removing examples of history in the form of statues leads current generation to forget the past and led them to act selfishly in glorying buried thoughts (Moore, 2020).

The study by Mohdin and Quinn (2020) informed that Winston Churchill was an important wartime leader who apart from inspiring many to fight the war for nation also acted as imperialist who mentioned Indians to be “beastly people”. Thus, it can be deduced that keeping the statue of Winston Churchill after his racist thinking about Indians who would in supporting his imperialistic nature in the present. Moreover, the study by Mohdin and Quinn (2020) adds that George Washington who was one of the celebrated leaders in the USA who supported advancement of democracy and liberty was seen to have owned slaves who were only freed after his death. Thus, it can be seen that history is complicated, and removal of the statues would generate a gap in the history where the positive acts of the celebrated people could not be presented from the history that led to the current development of politics and socialism. The other reason focused by Professor Richardson mentioned in the study of Hunt (2020) is that if the removal of alike statues of Rhodes was bestowed to decide by the protestors, then many pieces of architecture on the history that are worth standing would be lost an many will have uncertainty to exist. Therefore, removing statue of Rhodes as per demand of the protestor is not recommended solution as it would led to loss of key historical facts from the history that help in passing information in future.

The solution of Moore (2020) regarding “Black Lives Matters” of not allowing any change in the statue cannot also be supported for implementation in the cause. This is because it would to hiding of the negativities executed by the people signified in the statues. The route to hide facts in history is not the way of enlightment and is pathway of covering key facts from the history and from the view of the people. However, it is also argued by Hunt (2020) that keeping the statues of figures who were involved in racism and slavery in history acts as romanticising such figure and accepting the intended purpose mentioned by the memorials. In contrast, Professor Richardson mentions that keeping statues is not romanticising them but considering them to remain in the place by rightfully judging for their act on the context of time which differs with generation (Hunt, 2020).

Solution being recommended

The solution that is recommended for implementation is that of Mohdin and Quinn (2020) who mentions that keeping the statue in their original place while making modification in its description as well as developing diversity in the society where black people are effectively accepted without racism. This is a significant solution because keeping statues in their original places would not lead to erasure of the history or develop support of hiding inappropriate historical fact which often leads people to experience gap of knolwdege in history. In addition, keeping the statues in places would also avoid irrationally accepting the demand of the protesters to please them while the worthy history standing to educate people of differentiating between the right and wring is lost. Moreover, keeping the statues and the alike historical heritage by not blindly supporting the protesters demand would help to marvel the positive creation as well as understand flow of the context of time from the past history which las led to the current future.

The recommendation mentions not only to keep statues like mentioned in Hunt (2020) but also to make modification in describing them and promoting diversity as the allied acts. This recommendation is fruitful in reaching anti-racism while upholding the historical artefact because presenting both the positive and negative disruption of the statues would mean leading people to understand the reason behind the controversial figures being memorialised. Moreover, it would highlight the dark histories that have been led by the people so far and deliberately promote the selective actions to be taken to avoid repeating of the history by developing experience through their analysis. The promotion of diversity while keeping the statues in place also prove that context of time has been supported and from them effective inspiration has been taken to alter the current and future acts for the people.

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The exploration of studies led to conclude that the current chaos created by dumping of the statue of Colston in harbour of Bristol has led to eventually revived the Rhodes Must Fall Campaign and instigate the social issue of “Black Lives Matter”. The three key solutions identified in the case are approving the protestors demand of removing the statue and installing it museum, avoiding to take down the statue and avoiding taking the statue while making modification in its description along with promoting diversity for black people in the University. The first two solutions are avoided to be considered for implementation because they promote erasure of history and does not effectively put stop toward racism. However, allowing the statue to stay while modifying its description and promoting diversity would not inappropriately grant any demands of the protestors that may magnify with time out of initial acceptance of demands, in turn, avoiding change of erasure of history to be established.


Hunt, M., (2020), Tearing down history, University Matters Ltd. Available at: [Accessed on: 15 March 2021]

Mohdin, A., and Quinn, B., (2020), Oxford college backs removal of Cecil Rhodes statue, Available at: [Accessed on: 15 March 2021]

Moore, J., (2020), On the Removal of Statues, Available at: [Accessed on: 15 March 2021]

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