Lloyd's of London to pay for 'shameful' Atlantic slave trade role
By Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton
LONDON (Reuters) - Lloyd's of London's insurance market apologized Thursday for its "shameful" role in Atlantic slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries and promised to fund opportunities for black and ethnic minorities.
As part of a global reevaluation of history and racism triggered by George Floyd's death in the United States, some British institutions have begun to re-examine their past, particularly their links to slavery.
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The Bank of England also apologized for the "inexcusable ties" some former governors and directors had to slavery, saying it would remove all of their portraits from the exhibition somewhere on their premises.
About 17 million African men, women and children were torn out of their homes and tied between the 15th and 19th centuries to one of the most brutal globalized occupations in the world. Many died under unforgiving conditions.
"We regret the role the Lloyd's market played in the slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries - a horrific and shameful time in English history and our own," said Lloyd's in a statement on Thursday.
"Recent events have highlighted the inequality that black people have experienced over many years as a result of the systematic and structural racism that exists in many areas of society and has triggered difficult talks that have long been long overdue," he added.
On Lloyd's, the world's leading commercial insurance market, which was founded in Edward Lloyd's coffee house in 1688, complex insurance contracts are agreed and signed, ranging from disasters to the cancellation of events.
Lloyd's increasingly dominated the marine insurance market, a key element in Europe's global struggle for empires, treasures, and slaves that was typically included in the insurance policies in the general shipping tariff in the 18th century.
Guns and gunpowder from Europe were exchanged for African slaves that were shipped across the Atlantic to America.
The survivors experienced a life of submission on plantations while the ships returned to Europe loaded with sugar, cotton and tobacco.
Although Britain abolished the transatlantic slave trade in 1807, another generation did not completely abolish it.
Lloyd's said it would invest in programs to attract black and ethnic minorities, review its artifacts to ensure that they are not racist, and support charities and organizations that promote opportunities for black and ethnic minorities.
Among other British institutions that are reassessing the legacy of the past is Oxford University's Oriel College, which wanted to remove a 19th-century statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes on Wednesday.
Greene King, who describes himself as Britain's leading pub owner and brewer, apologized for the profit one of its original founders had made from the slave trade.
Greene King would make investments to help the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) and support racial diversity in his business, said managing director Nick Mackenzie.
The history of several other UK financial companies, including Barclays, is also being re-examined.
The bank was named after David Barclay, a Quaker who actively campaigned against slavery at the end of the 18th century. However, she later acquired institutions associated with slave trade, including Colonial Bank in 1918 and Martins Bank in 1969.
"We can't change what lies ahead, just how we do it," said a Barclays spokesman.
The City of London Corporation has launched the Anti-Racism Working Group to promote economic, educational and social inclusion in the City of London and to assess the future of statues and monuments.
(Additional reporting by Sinead Cruise, Huw Jones and David Milliken; editing by Estelle Shirbon and Andrew Cawthorne)
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