Scotland has significant historical connections with British slavery in the West Indies. Many families, buildings and places in Scotland have links with slavery, which ended in 1833 – but not before financial compensation was paid to slave owners. The legacy of slavery can still be detected in the Scottish surnames of many of the descendants of British slaves, a reminder of the many Scots who were slave owners and managers. Even our national bard Robert Burns, who wrote the anti-slavery poem ‘The Slave’s Lament’ had been prepared at one point to travel to Jamaica to make his fortune as an overseer on a plantation. A recent report by the University of Glasgow states that it received important funding from West Indian slavery and, as a consequence, will produce ‘reparative’ educational schemes. The University of Glasgow’s approach strongly suggests that, although we cannot change history, we can change the consequences. Professor Geoff Palmer OBE will discuss Scotland’s history of slavery in an event chaired by Lisa Williams (Chair of Edinburgh Caribbean Association).
Sir Geoff Palmer OBE arrived in London as an immigrant from Jamaica in 1955. After leaving school in London in 1958, he attended evening classes after work to improve his qualifications. He subsequently entered the Universities of Leicester, Edinburgh and Heriot Watt where he gained BSc, PhD and DSc degrees, respectively. He has published books on different subjects, has received various research, academic and community awards and was knighted in 2014 for his contributions to science, charity and human rights.