UoL Students vs Colonialism

Posted on: 27 October 2021 by Molly Cottrill in Posts

My previous blog ‘Controversial colonial landmarks across Liverpool’ delved into Liverpool’s colonial past, noting down street names and statues that once celebrated/ commemorated the slave trade.

Sparked by the BLM movement in 2020, many citizens and students across the UK and the world have been inspired to challenge this colonialism and racism. For instance, in UoL, the renaming of the Gladstone Halls of Residence is a strong statement.

The Gladstone Halls

The Gladstone Halls

Image credit:

Recently renamed as the Dorothy Kuya Halls of Residence, the William Gladstone Halls were, and still are, a controversial landmark. 

In an attempt to diversify and decolonise the UoL campus, a petition was created and votes were cast by students to rename the halls- previously named after 19th century British white male prime minister who allegedly had ties to the slave trade. Now, named after a Liverpool born human rights and anti-racist black female activist. Although this has had backlash, arguably, it is a step in the right direction for decolonising within UoL and across Liverpool. It acts as a statement against colonialism. 

What more can we do as students and as a city?

Students graduating

Image credit: The Guardian

In 1999, Liverpool City Council apologised formally for Liverpool’s part in the slave trade and the continual effect of slavery on Liverpool’s Black communities. This is a vital start, however, is just saying sorry enough? Over two decades since this apology, we still see the effects of colonialism and slavery on communities in Liverpool. A lot of these came to light with the BLM protests of 2020.

Was Nelson just a ‘man of his time’ and we should ignore his role in slavery, just focussing on his battle wins or should we take down the nelson monument in Liverpool?

Should the slave ship engravings be taken off buildings such as Pier Head and placed in a museum instead?

Should all streets named after men involved in the slave trade be renamed?

These are questions we must be asking ourselves, especially as students. Widening our wider world perspective whilst in university is key to broadening our minds and being more aware of the new and wider community we are a part of. These questions and debates can lead to real change. For instance, the renaming of the Gladstone halls. 

Although we cannot erase Liverpool’s colonial past, we can try our hardest to make sure colonialism is not prevalent in its future.