Did you hear about Toyin Agbetu’s act of heroism? He was the man who disrupted the bicentenary service marking the 1807 act to abolish the slave trade yesterday at Westminster Abbey yesterday. I woke up to a photo of him on the front page of The Toronto Star. In the photo, he stands a few feet away from the queen making a speech about what an outrage it is that neither the queen nor the British Prime Minister have apologized for England’s very significant role in the slave trade. Royson James writes (and I might be wrong, but I detected a gleeful tone):
with his voice ricocheting off the hundreds of statues and monuments in one of Christendoms’s most famous edifices, a lone protester yesterday halted Britain’s national service…Security and church officials hesitated…which white man wanted to be photographed hauling a black man out of church in handcuffs on the day the nation came to seek forgiveness for a practice the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has just called “this atrocity” and “universal sinfulness”
Toyin Agbetu is the founder and head of Ligali (www.ligali.org), an organization in
Britain that challenges racist representations in culture and the media. His press pass got him into the church and just a few steps away from British dignitaries. And so he took his space, he made his speech, and then later, once security figured out what to do, he was carted away and arrested. In the hallowed church, Agbetu shouted out a truth that not enough people are speaking aloud. Why aren’t enough British people asking: Why does the monarchy still exist? What have they stolen from people like us and others around the world? Why has there not been a war crime tribunal?
Toyin, congratulations on your bravery.