Vanessa Redgrave: Call The Midwife star on why slavery statues shouldn’t be removed

Bristol: Edward Colston statue replaced by sculpture of protester

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Vanessa Redgrave, 84, admits she doesn’t believe in pulling down statues following the last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests which saw activists topple historical figures who were either prominent UK slave traders or had some hand in the shameful global travesty. It stemmed from the death of George Floyd who was killed by Minneapolis police in May last year, triggering hundreds of protests across the world in a stand against police brutality and racism.

We need more statues, different ones, not just commemorating men who made money out of slavery

Vanessa Redgrave

Here in the UK, the statue of merchant Edward Colston was thrown into Bristol’s harbour, and many petitioned for the removal of former prime minister Winston Churchill’s sculpture.

But while Vanessa condemns the horrific acts some of the figures carried out, she admitted she doesn’t agree that their statues should be taken down.

In a new interview, she touched on how history needed to be taught better in schools so children could have a more in-depth understanding of what went on.

“The way that history is taught in schools is terrible, and it’s dropped much too soon,” she said.

“Thank God things are coming up now.

“No, I don’t think they should pull down the statues.

“We need more statues, different ones, not just commemorating men who made money out of slavery.”

She added to Radio Times: “But I don’t think they should go. We’ve got to keep on taking on board the fact that we are a country that has done terrible, cruel things.”

The actress went on to refer to modern-day acts that she describes are just as “cruel” as slavery.

She continued: “We still are [doing cruel things], when we refuse to give visas to asylum seekers, put them into prison, into barracks, and deport them back into an area we destroyed way back in history.

“We’re still doing the horror.

“And look at the slavery going on now: sex slavery. It’s happening in cities and towns, not tucked away in caverns in the mountains.”

She sighed: “There’s plenty going on.”

Vanessa’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.

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