UK: Bristol debates fate of toppled bronze statue of 17th-century slave trader

Category : Human Interest

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. topple / ˈtɒp əl / (v.) – to cause something to lose its balance and fall

    The strong winds toppled the lamppost.

  2. spark / spɑrk / (v.) – to cause something to begin

    Watching videos on YouTube sparked his interest in film.

  3. figure / ˈfɪg yər / (n.) – a person who's famous or important in some way

    My father is an important political figure in our town.

  4. commemorate / kəˈmɛm əˌreɪt / (v.) – to do something special to remember someone or something

    The statue was built to commemorate the country’s first leader.

  5. make a fortune / meɪk ə ˈfɔr tʃən / (idiom) – to make a lot of money by doing something successfully

    My grandparents made a fortune by investing in various tech companies.


Read the text below.

The bronze statue of Edward Colston stood in the center of the English port city of Bristol for more than 120 years.

But last year it was toppled as part of a global wave of anti-racism protests sparked by the killing of Black American man George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

The U.K. is in the middle of a nationwide debate about its slave-trading past and which figures from history should be commemorated.

Colston was a 17th-century trader who made a fortune transporting African slaves to the Americas on ships from Bristol. That’s why people toppled his statue.

But he also funded schools and charities in Bristol. Many streets, schools and major buildings took his name.

For now, the statue is being displayed in a museum until Sept. 5. Visitors can complete a survey about “what you think should happen next.” (AP)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Colston was a 17th-century trader who made a fortune transporting African slaves to the Americas on ships from Bristol, but he also funded schools and charities. What do you think should happen next to his statue (ex. it should be destroyed, it should be put back up)? Why? Discuss.
  • A lot of important figures in history have had statues created for them or things named after them. Do you think this is a good way to honor the memory of someone? Would you also like a statue to be made for you or something to be named after you? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The killing of George Floyd sparked a wave of global anti-racism protests. Do you think that global protests are an effective way to really promote change? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What (if anything) would you join a global protest for or against (ex. equality, the Myanmar coup)? What kinds of global protests have people in your country taken part in? Discuss.
Category : Human Interest