Cecil Rhodes statue to be removed from Oriel College in Oxford

(Photo: New York Times)

The governing body of Oxford University’s Oriel College is taking steps to remove the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes. 

Historians have described Rhodes as a brutal capitalist, and imperialist. He is especially known for his business and political exploits in sub-Saharan Africa. Rhodes had shared the belief that the Anglo-Saxon race was “the first race in the world”, and that “the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race”

The University’s decision comes as recent Black Lives Matter protests reignited discussion on whether the statue should be removed. Especially after a monument to Edward Colston was pulled down and dumped in the harbour in Bristol. 

But before the statute is removed, the university’s board will launch an independent commission into the statue.

“The Commission will deal with the issue of the Rhodes legacy and how to improve access and attendance of BAME undergraduate, graduate students and faculty, together with a review of how the college’s 21st Century commitment to diversity can sit more easily with its past,” a statement from the university said.

The Univeristy will also be looking to remove the King Edward Street Plaque.

“Both of these decisions were reached after a thoughtful period of debate and reflection and with the full awareness of the impact these decisions are likely to have in Britain and around the world,” it said.

Oriel College opened its Rhodes Building in 1911 after receiving a £100,000 from the former student, who died in 1902. 

A petition with 180,000 signatures calling for the statue to be removed is the latest rallying cry in five years of campaigning.