A major review for a global media company in relation to its historical connections with transatlantic slavery has been published today by the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull.
Research into the Guardian’s historical connections with transatlantic slavery in the Americas has led to the Scott Trust, owners of the Guardian Media Group, issuing an apology and outlining a programme of restorative justice, totalling more than £10 million over the next decade.
The announcement published by the Guardian today shows that much of the wealth of the Guardian’s founder and his backers was connected to transatlantic slavery in the USA, Brazil and the Caribbean.
Researchers from the Wilberforce Institute set out a range of connections between transatlantic slavery and John Edward Taylor, the journalist who founded the Manchester Guardian in 1821, and the other Manchester businessmen who funded the newspaper’s creation. The Scott Trust has apologised for the origins of the wealth used to found the Guardian and the part its founders played in the slavery economy.
Dr Cassandra Gooptar, a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute and the lead author of the reports into the Guardian’s links with historical slavery, said:
“I am honoured to have been part of this pioneering project and to be part of a research team with foremost experts in the field. The research on the Manchester Guardian’s links with slavery spanned the course of three years and culminated in three reports along with one summary report. The sombre findings, the potential impact of this project and its restorative justice element highlight the importance of this type of research. It is my hope that this project can act as a springboard and template for other institutions seeking to confront their own legacies of slavery.”
Trevor Burnard, Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull, said: “The Wilberforce Institute is proud to be associated with the Guardian in this brave and pioneering examination of its past involvement with American slavery. Our world-leading institute at the University of Hull is at the forefront of researching and tackling slavery, giving voice to the exploited, both past and present and we were honoured to be entrusted by the Guardian to do work on this project, a project which has taken several years to complete.
“We believe that when organisations take an honest look at their past involvement with slavery, bearing in mind the differences between then and now, it can provide many educational opportunities and a chance to reflect on what values an organisation stands for.”