Cecil Rhodes sign will be removed from Vancouver school to address 'anti-black racism'

Jun 25 2019, 4:54 pm

The Vancouver School Board has unanimously passed a motion to remove the Cecil Rhodes plaque at L’Ecole Bilingue Elementary school.

This comes after Jennifer Reddy, OneCity School Trustee, submitted a motion to remove the sign from the school’s playground as a commitment to “acknowledge and address anti-black racism.”

L’Ecole Bilingue was known as Cecil Rhodes Public School until 1977. Rhodes was a British businessman and politician. He founded De Beers — the diamond mining and retail giant.

He served as the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in the late 1800s and also founded the Rhodes Scholarship — an international award for postgraduate students to study at Oxford University in England.

Reddy’s motion states that “Rhodes was a leader in the establishment of systemic and institutional racism towards Black people in Southern Africa.”

Earlier this month, Patricia MacNeil, director of communications with the Vancouver School Board, confirmed with Daily Hive that the plaque at the school has since been covered.

The sign was originally a tile floor piece at the school’s old building. The school underwent a seismic upgrade in 2017 and the floorplate was placed at the basketball court.

This isn’t the first time there has been a push to extract historical references to Rhodes from public spaces.

The #RhodesMustFall protest movement began in 2015, in support of removing the Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town. The statue was taken down in April 2015.