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Blackburne House – should it be renamed?

This week we have heard the calls to take down or rename symbols of those who were part of, or supported, the slave trade. If you have read the history of Blackburne House you will know that it was built in 1788 for John Blackburne who was a supporter and beneficiary of the slave trade. There have been calls to change our name as a result and in adding to the debate about what we should do we wanted to share our thoughts on this matter.

We believe it’s imperative that we all recognise Liverpool’s history in profiting from the slave trade and the centuries of damage. This history underpins so much of the hurt and loss to the Black community and this country is still trying to address the structural racism that we face and are now talking about in light of the murder of George Floyd by a US police officer.

But what we also want people to know about the history of BH is that, despite the original connection with the slave trade in 1844, BH was bought by George Holt, who was a supporter of women’s rights: he opened it up as the first girl’s school in the country, which flourished until 1986 when it closed down.

We became the custodians in 1992 and after a major refurbishment, reopened the building in 1994. Since we began our work in this City in 1983, we have been dedicated to redressing the inequalities and we will continue to do whatever is needed to continue to support women, and the BAME communities in their fight for justice.

BH has now become known for our fight for equality and the provision of exceptional educational opportunities that help the women of Liverpool and beyond develop into their potential and become more financially independent through further studies, employment or enterprise. Our famous red doors have been a symbol of welcome. Our philosophy and ambitions is so aptly put in the words of Michelle Obama “Empower yourself with good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of boundless promise".

Finally, we strongly believe that you cannot change the past but we can change the future

Clarie Dove CEO , CBE DL

Liz Cross Chair of the Board

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