Petition to rename Guy’s campus passes 5,000 signatures under 24 hours

The petition comes following Sadiq Khan’s comments on Thomas Guy’s links to slavery

A petition has been launched to rename Guy’s campus due to Thomas Guy’s involvement in the slave trade.

Thomas Guy owned £42,000 shares in South Sea Company, a company which supplied 4,800 slaves a year for 30 years to Spanish plantations in Central and South America.

The petition was created by King’s student Ayesha Khan, in order to push King’s to “reflect their commitment to creating an ‘inclusive environment that promotes equality’ as stated in their Equality and Diversity policy”.

Photo of New Hunts House library on Guys campus

On the page, Ayesha writes: “We are a couple of first-year undergraduates at King’s studying on Guy’s Campus. We’ve loved spending our first year not only surrounded by international academic excellence but also making friends on campus with people from all different nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds and identities. Thus, this is what inspired our petition.”

Ayesha also notes that nowhere on their site does King’s acknowledge Guy’s involvement in slave trading, referring to him as a man of “extraordinary generosity” and an “eccentric philanthropist”.

She writes: “One of the most prestigious institutions in the world naming a site after him disregards his dark involvement with the systematic dehumanisation of black people.”

In just 24 hours since the petition’s launch, it has received a total of 4,569 signatures, with people commenting that it should be renamed to “stop honouring people who enslaved others” and “it’s time we shouldn’t be glorifying people who were involved in slave trading”.

This comes as a larger push to remove Thomas Guy’s name from several prominent buildings in the surrounding area.

Guy’s Hospital is reportedly considering taking down their statue of Thomas Guy, although no comments have yet been made about plans to rename the hospital itself.

In a statement yesterday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for a review of all statues and street names in London depicting those involved in the slave trade.

He said: “It’s a sad truth that much of our city and nation’s wealth was derived from the slave trade, but this does not have to be celebrated in our public spaces.

“Our new Commission will work to ensure our public realm truly reflects London’s achievements and diversity.”

In a TV interview he said the plans were not only to remove statues of slave traders but to add new statues in their place to better represent a wider range of role models.

“Not only are there some of slavers that I think should be taken down, and the Commission will advise us on that,” he said. “But actually we haven’t got enough representation of people of colour, black people, women, the LGBT community.”

You can sign the petition here.

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In this fight for Black Lives Matter, I have never been more proud to be black