Socialist Worker

Oxford activists want to make sure Rhodes falls

Issue No. 2710

Part of the protest demanding Rhodes must fall (Pic: Peter Dwyer)

Part of the protest demanding Rhodes must fall (Pic: Peter Dwyer)


Student activists have vowed to keep fighting until the front of Oriel College, Oxford, no longer features a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

It follows a decision by Oriel’s governing body on Wednesday of last week to set up a “commission of inquiry into the key issues surrounding the Rhodes statue”.

The body also “expressed their wish to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes and the King Edward Street Plaque”.

Their decision shows the power of Black Lives Matter movement to wrest gains from the authorities.

A number of councils, universities and public bodies have agreed to remove statues or rename buildings named after slavers.

The moves came after protesters in Bristol tore down a statue to slave trader Edward Colston and threw it in the harbour.

A long-running campaign in Oxford has demanded the removal of the Rhodes statue.

Dripping blood from every pore—why Rhodes must fall
Dripping blood from every pore—why Rhodes must fall
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Around 4,000 people protested in front of the college at the beginning of the month to demand that it goes.

The Rhodes Must Fall Oxford campaign welcomed the governors’ decisions, but said the fight was far from over.

“We have been down this route before, where Oriel College has committed to taking a certain action, but has not followed through,” it said in a statement.

“Notably, in 2015, when the College committed to engaging in a six-month-long democratic listening exercise.

“Therefore, while we remain hopeful, our optimism is cautious.”

The campaign stands for a broader set of demands.

These include “the removal of imperial and colonial iconography such as the statue of Christopher Codrington in All Souls College” and “the radical transformation of the academy”.

They call for decolonising the curriculum and “doubling the representation of Black staff and Black British students—as well as more Black African Rhodes Scholars—and providing properly for their welfare and inclusion”.


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