New words for a plaque designed for Edinburgh’s statue of Henry Dundas – a man known to deliberately prolong the slave trade – will be published this week.
The Melville Monument in St Andrew Square has been the subject of debate for decades due to the city glorifying the controversial leader despite his efforts in delaying the abolition slavery.
Campaigners including Scotland’s first black professor Sir Geoff Palmer and one of Dundas’s very own descendants, Benjamin Carey, have been urging Edinburgh council to install a plaque on the statue exposing the man’s contentious links to the slave trade and to give a more honest account of his ruling.
In light of the Black Lives Matter protests, council leader Adam McVey has confirmed a narrative will be written beneath the memorialised leader and the new text will be published tomorrow for the public to see.
A council spokesman said: “Following talks with campaigners and others, Adam McVey has confirmed that a new form of words will be published tomorrow for a replacement plaque at the Melville Monument – better reflecting Henry Dundas' links to the slave trade.”
In a statements released on Tuesday Mr McVey said: “Edinburgh is a progressive, diverse and welcoming City and we must continue to fight against racism in all spheres of Government and across society.
“I share the anger of people that we are still, in 2020, debating the issue of racial prejudice – something that should be consigned to the history books. The Black Lives Matter demonstration at the weekend, where no arrests were made, proves the overwhelming power of peaceful action.
“What is essential is that we tell our City’s story more accurately - for better or worse. We have a lot to celebrate about the contribution black and ethnic minority Edinburghers have made and are making to our City’s progress and success and that should be clear.
“Yet, we also need to address and talk openly about those moments in Scottish history where people have been killed, enslaved or discriminated against, simply because of their race.
“As part of this, we’ll be reviewing our own museum and gallery collections through the lens of BAME history to make sure that Edinburgh’s stories are accurately told. Building on the progress we’d already made with Prof Geoff Palmer and others, I’m pleased to say that we’ve come to a form of words on a plaque at the statue of Henry Dundas – and this will be published tomorrow. It will be finalised and installed at the foot of the Melville Monument as soon as possible.
“This is just one part of Edinburgh’s history and one small change we can make. We should make many more.”