More than 10,000 people took part in a peaceful, physically distanced, Black Lives Matter protest in Madeira Drive in Brighton last weekend.
As someone who was proud to be there, I can testify it was a moving and powerful event.
The Black Lives Matter movement has rightly shone a spotlight on the legacy of colonial statues and street names in the UK.
It is important that we reflect on Brighton and Hove’s Georgian history, which meant much of the investment that led to its growth came from Caribbean sugar plantations and the enslavement of people.
Today we pride ourselves on being a city of sanctuary that people from all backgrounds can call home.
In that spirit, the council is reviewing all plaques, monuments, statues and street names on public land to ensure that we are celebrating legacies that reflect our city’s values.
We will talk to our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and historians to ensure we fully understand our complex heritage.
Based on that, we will commission new street art installations which celebrate our diverse values.
One monument we can reflect on with pride – thanks to the research, fundraising and restoration work done by the Brighton and Hove Black History Project – is the gravestone of Thomas Highflyer in Woodvale Cemetery.
A freed slave from east Africa, Thomas was rescued at sea in 1866 and settled in Brighton. He died 150 years ago this week at the age of 12, almost certainly from one of the many common diseases of the period.
It is an important legacy for our city that the family who gave him lodgings in Kemp Town ensured that he attended school at St Mark’s in Whitehawk.
And the records uncovered by the Brighton and Hove Black History Project show that the headmaster encouraged other pupils to give him a warm welcome.
In tribute to Thomas Highflyer and those who supported him I want the discussions about monuments and street names to ensure our city is associated with freedom and sanctuary, not oppression and bigotry.
Please contact me directly if you are aware of any statues, monuments, street or building names that you think are a cause for concern.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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