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  • Writer's pictureHertford & Stortford CLP

The Rhodes Centre in Bishop's Stortford Should Change Its Name, But That's Just the Start

As the Parliamentary candidate for Hertford and Stortford in 2019 I had the pleasure of visiting the Rhodes centre on a number of occasions. It is a brilliant community venue which is a vital resource to the people of the town and I would join with my Stortford Labour colleagues who are fighting to keep it open. However, it is long overdue a name change and would also I add my name to those Harlow Labour Councillors who have already signed the petition, they were absolutely right to do so.

Cecil Rhodes actions in South Africa saw hundreds of thousands of black Africans enslaved or killed and his legacy would see even more deaths. He believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was superior to all others, something that endured him to a certain German chancellor who came to power in 1933.

Cllr Chris Vince, Hertford & Stortford Labour's Parliamentary Candidate at the 2019 GE

We must also recognise that Rhodes and slave trader Edward Colston, whose statue was pulled down by protestors in Bristol, were not acting alone. Not only were their actions supported by the British Empire they were also celebrated as heroes by the British press and public at large. Personally, I feel ashamed that in 2020 we still have monuments celebrating these people. However, removing them is not enough and in doing so there is a danger we forget the terrible things that they did in Britain’s name.

We need teach people about the role the British Empire played in the slave trade in greater depth than is already taught in schools. We also need to hear the voices of black people, both in terms of sources from the past but also from today and the long-term impact that the slave trade has had on our world as a whole.

I am a proud to be British, I am proud of our NHS and the multicultural society that we have today. However, if we are to become a more progressive nation then we need to acknowledge and fully understand our past, not ignore the parts that we find uncomfortable.

Chris Vince

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