Oxford University to remove statue of Cecil Rhodes after four-year effort

Oxford University will remove its statue of Cecil Rhodes, the British imperialist who promoted apartheid-style second-class citizenship for black people in southern Africa.

The university’s Oriel College voted Wednesday in favor of removing the statue and to create an independent commission to investigate issues surrounding the statue of Rhodes, the Guardian reported.

“Both of these decisions were reached after a thoughtful period of debate and reflection and with the full awareness of the impact these decisions are likely to have in Britain and around the world,” the governing body said in a statement. “The commission will deal with the issue of the Rhodes legacy and how to improve access and attendance of BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] undergraduate, graduate students and faculty, together with a review of how the college’s 21st century commitment to diversity can sit more easily with its past.”

Rhodes also founded the De Beers diamond company and was the namesake of the Rhodes Scholarship as well as the nation of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and sought to expand British influence throughout Africa, believing white Anglo-Saxons to be “the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.”

Oxford students have called for the statue’s removal dating back to 2016. Another statue of Rhodes at the University of Cape Town was removed in 2015 after decades of student protests, originating among Afrikaner students due to his role in the Boer War and later continuing among black students for the role his ideas played in the development of apartheid.

As anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests have spread around the world since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, numerous protests in both the U.S. and internationally have targeted statues of figures associated with either the Confederacy or institutional racism in general.

In Bristol, U.K., protesters pushed a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into the harbor, while in Antwerp, demonstrators set fire to a statue of King Leopold II of Belgium, who killed at least 10 million people in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tags anti-police brutality Anti-racism Black Lives Matter Cecil Rhodes Edward Colston George Floyd Oxford University The Guardian United Kingdom

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