Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review

Closed 19 Jan 2022

Opened 27 Oct 2021

Results updated 17 Jan 2024

At the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 we asked the public for their views on the most constructive ways that the city could address issues of historic racial injustice as a means to stem modern-day discrimination, as part of the Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review. More than 4,000 people and 35 organisations took part. 

The majority of Edinburgh respondents were enthusiastic about making changes in the civic realm, highlighting the many and positive contributions of diverse communities. Most viewed Edinburgh’s links with slavery as an abhorrent but important part of the city’s history which should not be hidden from view. Most were against monuments being removed or public buildings and street names being changed in Edinburgh, but were keen for new, enhanced or revised interpretation to ensure accurate and fuller histories are told.

Education was highlighted as key, by all age groups, in the fight against racism and inequality, particularly in the school curriculum. The need for further research to be undertaken and publicised was also articulated.

Museums, cultural events and resources were seen as accessible and important ways to explore the legacy of slavery and colonialism and its impacts on modern-day Edinburgh. Participants wished for new public artworks or commemorations to be more representative of the diverse population of Edinburgh and their positive contributions, ensuring that those celebrated include women, individuals from Black and Minority Ethnic communities, and individuals with disabilities. An emphasis on inspiring stories of ‘ordinary’ people was expressed.

Response from organisations were positive; the majority perceiving the review as a crucial first step towards a longer-term action plan to address the legacy collectively and strategically. 

On 30 August 2022, Policy and Sustainability Committee agreed to endorse the recommendations made by the Review Group and progress the actions outlined in the action plan.  

Read the committee report and engagement results.


Building on long-standing efforts of City of Edinburgh Council, equalities-focussed organisations and individuals, and protests in support of the global Black Lives Matter movement, in July 2020 the Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee agreed a set of actions to address historic racial injustice and stem modern day discrimination.

Its report stated: “Committee recognises… that cities, including Edinburgh, should acknowledge and address their roles in perpetuating racism and oppression in the past as part of the process of challenging it in the present.”

A number of actions were agreed for immediate implementation, including the establishment of an independent Review to consider and make recommendations on how to address Edinburgh’s slavery and colonialism legacy in the civic realm. This work is being led by Sir Geoff Palmer, who chairs a Review Group made up of people from diverse backgrounds who live or work in Edinburgh, including those with experience in equalities, academia, culture and conservation.

The findings from the consultation will inform the Review Group’s recommendations and will feature in a report to be brought to Council committee in 2022. This will help the Council decide which actions it will consider, and what the priorities for change might be.

Why your views matter

The Review Group wants to hear your thoughts about the most constructive ways that the city could address issues of historic racial injustice as a means to stem modern-day discrimination.

It is also seeking views about a selection of prominent features in the public realm including monuments, street names and buildings, which it considers representative of the many aspects of Edinburgh life and society shaped by the city’s legacy of slavery and colonialism.

In addition to this online consultation, the Review Group is working with schools across the city and hosting discussion sessions with Edinburgh-based community groups directly impacted by this legacy in the present.


  • All Edinburgh


  • Anyone from any background


  • Arts and culture
  • Archives and local history
  • Museums and galleries
  • Parks and green spaces
  • Conservation
  • Public space