In a city enriched with diversity, a recent act of vandalism has left the community in dismay. Birmingham's inaugural monument saluting Black heritage has been marred with racist obscenities. The public artwork titled "Black British History is British History," which had been unveiled less than a fortnight ago, has now been tarnished with repugnant slurs1.
The brainchild of artists Luke Perry and Canaan Brown, this unique work of art was conceived with the intent of invoking inspiration and positivity in the community. It was erected as an homage to the countless contributions of Black individuals to British history, an endeavour supported by various members of Birmingham's Black communities1.
The sculpture, unveiled by Paulette Hamilton, Birmingham's first Black MP, has various elements that highlight important aspects of Black history. The design includes a ship's mast signifying Black sailors who settled in British port cities, symbols from the Roman era to mark the presence of Black people in Britain dating back 2,000 years, and a sign honouring Malcolm X's visit to Smethwick in 1965. The artwork also features figures that symbolise the contributions of individuals like Olaudah Equiano, a writer, and Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse and businesswoman1.
This act of vandalism is not merely an attack on a physical monument but an affront to the spi
rit of community and unity that the city embodies. The heinous act was roundly condemned by local leaders and the creators of the sculpture. Aftab Rahman, CEO of Legacy West Midlands, described the incident as "deeply offensive" and "cowardly" and confirmed that immediate action would be taken to restore the artwork1.
This artwork is a beacon of hope and remembrance in the city, reflecting the journey of Black Britons, diasporans, and society at large. The sculpture serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience of the community, echoing the message, "Still we rise"1.
This reprehensible incident follows a worrying trend, as it echoes similar instances of racist vandalism that have occurred in Birmingham. Last year, residents were left horrified after racist slurs were discovered in the Small Heath area of the city. According to Home Office figures, hate crimes against all minority groups have seen a surge, with more than 155,841 hate crimes recorded in the year ending March 20221.
As part of the city's Black Heritage Walk Network, the sculpture was meant to be a cultural landmark fostering pride and belonging. Despite this setback, the city remains resilient, with the community and organisers vowing to continue celebrating their shared heritage and cultural awareness