Laura Trevelyan: My slavery link to MP shows reality of reparations

1 month ago 7

Clive Lewis and Laura Trevelyan successful  ParliamentImage source, Laura Trevelyan

Image caption,

John Dower, Clive Lewis and Laura Trevelyan (left to right) met successful Parliament to sermon reparative justice

By Joshua Nevett

BBC Politics

In a quiescent corridor of the UK parliament, which played a pivotal relation successful the improvement and eventual abolition of the transatlantic enslaved trade, Labour MP Clive Lewis snaps a selfie with 2 campaigners.

The campaigners are erstwhile BBC writer Laura Trevelyan and her relative John Dower, who precocious apologised to the Caribbean land of Grenada for their family's historical relation successful the enslaved trade.

All smiling broadly, the trio successful the photograph could beryllium aged friends.

But until past month, Ms Trevelyan had nary thought determination was a British MP who could hint his roots to Grenada, wherever successful the 19th period her household owned much than 1,000 slaves.

"In fact, it's wholly imaginable that his ancestors were owned by my ancestors," said Ms Trevelyan.

"So successful that sense, we correspond some the symptom of Britain's assemblage past but besides the committedness - arsenic we're present moving together.

"I anticipation that by the 2 of america talking astir that link, that volition amusement radical successful Britain and so astir the world, that this isn't thing that's abstract."

Last month, the Trevelyan household agreed to donate much than £100,000 to acquisition projects connected the tiny Caribbean land arsenic compensation for its engagement successful slavery.

Ms Trevelyan past discontinue the BBC aft 30 years to go a full-time slavery reparations campaigner.

On the time of her family's apology, she saw that Mr Lewis had stood up successful the House of Commons and said helium couldn't find a azygous connection by a British curate connected the contented of reparations.

'Small island'

Members of the Trevelyan household past attended a parliamentary statement astir reparations led by Mr Lewis.

"Then we figured retired we had this link," Ms Trevelyan said. "Grenada is simply a tiny land - astir the size of the Isle of Wight."

This means, she was told, that "probably virtually everyone connected Grenada is descended astatine immoderate constituent from idiosyncratic who was owned by 1 of your ancestors".

"That to maine was incredibly striking. That nexus to Clive Lewis is 1 that brought maine present to Westminster."

Media caption,

WATCH: Ex-BBC presenter Laura Trevelyan says it's "entirely possible" her household owned the ancestors of MP Clive Lewis

Mr Lewis, whose begetter was calved and raised successful Grenada, welcomed the Trevelyan household apology and said determination had "never been a speech successful this state astir our relation successful the satellite for bully and for bad".

He said: "There are achromatic radical successful this state who've been talking astir this for galore decades."

It was ironic, added the MP for Norwich South, that the powerfulness structures created by the enslaved commercialized successful the UK were "part of the crushed wherefore those voices don't person entree successful the media".

"A achromatic household who benefitted from slavery person decided to amusement existent enactment connected this, which is thing that hasn't been done before."

Africans enslaved

While Caribbean nations person agelong projected a 10-point reparations plan, Mr Lewis said the Trevelyan household had "driven a wedge into the doorway of this contented and it's present incumbent upon each of america to support going and propulsion it wider".

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

MP William Wilberforce led the run to abolish the enslaved commercialized successful the 19th century

British authorities and the monarchy were salient participants successful the trade, which saw millions of Africans enslaved and forced to work, particularly connected plantations successful the Caribbean, betwixt the 16th and 19th centuries.

The British authorities has ne'er formally apologised for slavery oregon offered to wage reparations.

Ms Trevelyan and Mr Lewis person joined calls for Rishi Sunak to clasp talks with Caribbean leaders connected however the UK tin marque amends for its slavery past.

But, wherefore should the British premier curate attraction astir the contented of reparations?

Ms Trevelyan argued that repayment is owed for what Barbadian historiographer Sir Hilary Beckles has called "Britain's achromatic debt", which helium says near Caribbean nations with thing erstwhile slavery ended.

Following her family's apology, the premier curate of Grenada, Dickon Mitchell, urged Mr Sunak to participate into negotiations with Caribbean leaders to sermon their reparations plan.

Image source, IBW connected YouTube

Image caption,

Dickon Mitchell urged Rishi Sunak to clasp reparations talks with Caribbean leaders

Although Ms Trevelyan's ancestors ne'er acceptable ft connected Grenada, they were progressive successful and profited from aggregate sweetener cane plantations connected the island.

After a British Act of Parliament to abolish slavery successful 1833, the Trevelyans received astir £34,000 for the nonaccomplishment of their "property" connected Grenada - the equivalent of astir £3m successful today's money.

The absorption to the family's £100,000 donation successful Grenada was mixed, though, with immoderate saying it was an inadequate magnitude of wealth and the apology would marque nary difference.

Royal apology call

Back successful the UK, King Charles III is coming nether unit to accidental much astir the Royal Family's historical relation successful the enslaved commercialized aft his coronation successful May.

The Royal African Company, acceptable up with a charter granted by King Charles II successful the 17th century, shipped thousands of enslaved Africans to the Americas.

Last year, during a gathering of Commonwealth leaders, King Charles said: "I cannot picture the depths of my idiosyncratic sorrow astatine the suffering of truthful many, arsenic I proceed to deepen my ain knowing of slavery's enduring impact."

But the Royal Family has offered nary ceremonial apology for Britain's information successful the enslaved trade.

A ceremonial royal apology has agelong been awaited by Caricom, the governmental and economical national of Caribbean nations.

One elder Caricom diplomat, Dorbrene O'Marde, said Caribbean leaders were keen to person a treatment with "both royalty and the governmental enactment of the country". "It is simply a captious measurement forward," helium said.

He said portion nary advancement had been made connected this, "there mightiness beryllium a tiny opening into the reparations debate".

"I expect that our governmental enactment volition surely summation governmental and diplomatic unit to person that conversation," Mr O'Marde said.

Buckingham Palace did not privation to comment.

Responding to the calls for reparations talks, the Foreign Office said the authorities acknowledges the relation of British authorities successful enabling the enslaved commercialized for galore years.

"We profoundly regret this appalling atrocity and however it harmed truthful galore people," a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the authorities believes economical and assistance initiatives are "the astir effectual mode for the UK to respond to the cruelty of the past".

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