William Knibb: Calls for statue to slavery abolitionist

  • Published
William KnibbImage source, The National Library of Wales
Image caption,
Kettering-born William Knibb was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit for his advocacy on behalf of slaves

Campaigners say a statue should be built in the hometown of slavery abolitionist William Knibb.

A petition calling for the monument to be erected in Kettering has been signed by more than 1,000 people.

Student Ben Humphries started the campaign after seeing slaver Edward Colston's statue torn down in Bristol.

He said Mr Knibb should be recognised for "the fact he continued to help free slaves" despite "constant threats from white slave owners".

His efforts have been backed by borough councillor Mick Scrimshaw and Kettering Civic Society.

Born in Kettering, William Knibb was a baptist minister who campaigned for an end to slavery. He worked as a missionary in Jamaica from 1824 until his death in 1845.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pushed into the harbour in Bristol after being toppled by protesters

On the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, he was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit - the first white male to receive the honour.

His efforts to help slaves came despite threats to his liberty, and militia burning down his chapels and schoolrooms.

Mr Humphries, from Kettering but currently studying history at the University of York, said: "The fact he continued to help free slaves while under constant threat by the white slave owners is really important."

He said people need to look "back into history to find the negatives, to find what we can do better", but also "to find where we went right".

Image source, Anti-Slavery International
Image caption,
A petition is calling for a statute of Baptist minister William Knibb to be erected in Kettering

Monica Ozdemir, from Kettering Civic Society, called the campaign "wonderful".

She said the society had long planned for a statue to Mr Knibb to highlight how important he is "for Kettering and Kettering's history".

Labour's Mr Scrimshaw wrote to Kettering Borough Council leader Russell Roberts following Black Lives Matter protests across the world.

Mr Scrimshaw said Kettering had "a very proud link to a major abolitionist" and was "happily attached to the right side of that historical argument".

Kettering Borough Council said it would be discussing the petition at its July executive meeting.

Deputy leader Lesley Thurland said it was "time to get the ball rolling" and make sure a proper memorial to Mr Knibb was put in place.

She said whatever that was, it should not simply be "something you just walk by," but should educate people as to what he achieved.

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