In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, as black squares flooded social media and promises to listen and learn rang out around the world, the campaign to address the UK’s links to slavery became headline news. Statues were pulled down, institutions renamed, and the demand for reparations was brought to the floor of the House of Commons. For Laura Trevelyan, a former BBC journalist, and the descendant of one of the British Empire’s most prominent slave-owners, it was time to address the past.
The idea of reparatory justice did not begin in June 2020. For MP Clive Lewis, his Grenadian heritage meant that he grew up with the stories of enslavement, emancipation, and underdevelopment experienced by his ancestors. When slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833, slave-owning families were handed huge payouts for their lost ‘property’. Meanwhile, the people who had to grapple with their newly granted ‘freedom’, along with the descendents, have been considering and fighting for justice ever since.
So when Laura and her family issued a formal apology to the island of Grenada, where their ancestors had owned thousands of enslaved people, Clive realised it was time to speak up too.