In June 2020, City announced a review of its historic sources of funding to determine if there were any links with the historic transatlantic slave trade and, if so, to make recommendations.
Background and summary
The backdrop to the review was the broader Black Lives Matter movement, itself sparked by an act of police violence against George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis, USA.
In the UK, the sense of injustice was augmented by the differential impact of Covid-19 on people of colour, and the campaign has manifested itself in protests against racial injustice, including action to remove statues of slave traders across the UK.
On 9th June 2020, it was reported across various media that Sir John Cass was a figure in the Atlantic slave trade, through his involvement in the Royal African Company (1660-1752). Cass Business School, so named in 2002 following a donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation, was recognised by the University as therefore having naming and donation links to the slave trade through the Sir John Cass Foundation.
The University then announced this review, which is part of City’s wider focus on advancing race equality and challenging racism, including the launch of the new EDI strategy, and its commitment to the principles of Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter, through applying for the REC Bronze Award.
Principal research findings
The findings of the review are twofold. First, that apart from its honouring of Sir John Cass, City has no direct, or easily identifiable, association with African slavery.
Second, however, that African slavery played a significant part in making possible the land, gifts, support and patronage which underpinned City and its antecedent institutions. In response, City has already confronted the heritage of the Cass name adopted by the Business School in 2002, and has decided to remove the name from the Business School.
What is now critical is how City makes sense of what has been learned about its history, about those connected with the institution, and how it uses this to inform the future