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Cecil Rhodes professorship dropped by King’s College London after row over slavery links

‘Blood of enslaved Caribbean people is mixed into mortar’ of university, Professor Richard Drayton says

Leonie Chao-Fong
Monday 10 January 2022 21:48 GMT
Protesters in Oxford during a protest calling for the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel college
Protesters in Oxford during a protest calling for the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel college (PA)

A university professorship named after Cecil Rhodes has been scrapped by a top London university over its links to slavery and racism.

King’s College London has removed the 100-year-old Rhodes Professorship of Imperial History after the current post-holder, Prof Richard Drayton, called for it to be dropped.

Prof Drayton, who was a former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, said of King’s College that “the blood of enslaved Caribbean people is mixed into the mortar of its foundations”, as reported by the Mail on Sunday.

In a letter to the provost of King’s written in 2020, released following a Freedom of Information request, he said the institution was built with donations from individuals made rich by the enslavement and exploitation of people in the West Indies.

He made reference to the plantation owner Charles Pallmer, who gave today’s equivalent of £40,000 to King’s in 1828 and who once received the equivalent of £400,000 for the 300 slaves he owned in Jamaica.

The academic argued that the Rhodes Professorship should be changed and that the university should make reparations to the Caribbean and African diaspora.

Such moves would “begin a process of repair – repair of the world, repair of ourselves – to make a future world in which everyone can live as equals”, he wrote.

In response, King’s College said that because the Professorship was not connected to any funding from the Rhodes Trust, reference to the British imperialist could be dropped.

Following his letter, the university launched the Harold Moody research studentships to support candidates from underrepresented communities, named after the Jamaican-born medic, anti-racism campaign and former’s King’s student.

A King’s College spokesperson said: “As we have not received funding from the Rhodes Trust for almost 100 years, the name of the chair was updated.”

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