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Statue of Black Lives Matter protester replaces slave trader

Jen Reid held up her fist when protesters tore down the statue of a British slave trader.

Jen Reid Matt Dunham/Associated Press

A historic moment in Bristol, England has now been memorialized. Last month, Jen Reid attended a Black Lives Matter rally that ended with the crowd removing a statue of British slave trader Edward Colston and dumping it into the city’s harbor. After the statue was torn down, Reid climbed up to where it once stood and raised her clenched fist to the crowd.

“It wasn’t as easy as it looked because it was a lot higher than I thought it was. My legs were jelly. It was a slow rise, but when I stood up and raised my fist, the crowd cheered like crazy,” she told the New York Times. “Looking back on that moment, it just gives me goose-pimples.”

The image of Reid pumping her fist in the air quickly circulated social media and became a symbol of the Bristol protest. British sculptor Marc Quinn saw the image and reached out to Reid about making her the subject of a replacement statue.

“She created this iconic image; I’m just amplifying the moment she created,” Quinn told the Times, adding that he hopes the sculpture will make people think about “how we commemorate people in statues.”

Reid’s statue was erected on Wednesday morning (July 15). Quinn told the Times he’s not sure if city officials will leave the statue up permanently. The debate about what should permanently replace the torn-down statue of Colston reportedly began last month. Some have advocated that a statue of Black activist and organizer of the Bristol bus boycott Paul Stephenson should go up in its place.

The Colston statue has since been fished out of the harbor and is expected to be put in a local museum that has an exhibit about the city’s ties to the slave trade.

“I walked past his statue every day for the last five years,” Reid said. “It’s an effrontery to have a slave master you have to walk past everyday.”

See an image of Reid and the statue below.

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