Statue of BLM activist replaces that of a slave trader in Bristol

The British city of Bristol was once a hub for the Atlantic slave trade. A statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader, stood in the city until last month when it was toppled by protestors. Now, a statue of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid has replaced the monument. 

The statue, named A Surge of Power, is a temporary art installation in the city but symbolizes the unacceptable nature of racism and the need for immediate action to counteract institutionalized racism in everyday society. 

The statue was created by London-based artist Marc Quinn who released a joint statement Wednesday with Reid saying, “We want to keep highlighting the unacceptable problem of institutionalized and systemic racism that everyone has a duty to face up to.”

Protestors pulled down the statue of Colston, a leader of the Royal African Company who helped abduct and sell thousands of Africans into enslavement, in June and subsequently threw it into the harbor where slave ships once docked. 

The fate of the new temporary statue will be decided by citizens who will have a say in where it goes after a period of public exhibition. Replacing monuments to racism and racist actions with symbols of progress and the fight for equality is a beautiful and powerful signal that legacies of slavery and racism have no place on display, especially in public spaces. 

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