History is inescapable in Cambridge. It is inconceivable that a British institution as old as our University would not have been touched by colonial practices of enslavement and enforced labour – whether benefiting from, helping to shape, or indeed challenging them.
A society’s historical baggage and its modern-day challenges are inextricable. Understanding our past and shaping our future are not separate projects. The University of Cambridge is exceptionally well placed to undertake both of them.
The legacies of enslavement form a part of who we are today, and inform what we wish to achieve. We can never rewrite history, or do away with our heritage, but we can try to address prevailing inequalities. This process begins through greater self-knowledge and self-reflection.
Professor Stephen J Toope