What do you think of when you hear the words ‘Civil Rights Movement’? Probably Martin Luther King Jr’s civil rights marches? The Montgomery Bus Boycotts and Rosa Parks? I would guess that what you think of – and what you have learnt at school – took place in the United States. Robin Bunce and Paul Field’s biography of Darcus Howe argues that in the history we learn in the UK, the narrative is that “Britain is the utopia of fair play” and therefore the civil rights struggle in the UK are dismissed in the school curriculum as it does not fit into this vision.
Though many of us can easily recall names of famous sovereigns, their policies, their wives even, a new order is bubbling. We’ve seen the way empires have risen, fallen, how religion has been twisted and moulded to fit ideals. Should the continued existence of such an archaic institution really be the representative of our so called democracy?
Following the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, Churchill has been at the centre of debates highlighting divisions over his legacy. Several historical accounts demonstrate his racist ideology which makes a compelling case that it may finally be the time we have a reckoning with the problematic history of popular figures in Britain.
The paradox of the ceaseless compassion that defines humans and the exhausting belligerence that has plagued humanity is a tale that began before we could walk on two legs. When looking back at history many may ask the question “How did people allow for this to happen?”. In this article, we will be exploring how humanity was allowed to both destroy and grace history.