Grenada’s bid for reparations from historic colonialism has received another boost after a top British journalist, whose family became rich from slavery, abandoned her successful career to help the tiny island’s campaign.
Laura Trevelyan admits that her professional success can be traced back to Britain’s colonial history after quitting the BBC last week to tackle her family’s slave trade legacy. She has even donated a huge sum of her personal pension to Grenada as part of her personal reparations.
Trevelyan admits she feels a personal responsibility for her ancestors owning slaves in Grenada.
Trevelyan also called on King Charles III to properly confront the British royal family’s connection to slavery amid increasing demands from Commonwealth nations in the Caribbean.
The 54-year-old broadcaster enjoyed a 30-year career at the BBC, presenting shows including Emmy-winner BBC World News America. She’s left to join the movement for reparatory justice for the Caribbean.
“My own social and professional standing, almost 200 years after abolition, is almost certainly linked to the wealth and the status that our family acquired, at least partly through slave ownership,” she said. “There’s no coincidence. The past does define the present.”
Trevelyan, who is married to former ABC News chief James Goldston, and her family apologised last month to the people of Grenada because their ancestors owned more than 1,000 slaves across six sugar plantations.
Trevelyan will use her journalistic skills and public platform to raise awareness of the legacy of colonialism in the Caribbean. She does not have a formal role but said she would be a “roving advocate for reparatory justice.”
Trevelyan felt compelled to resign after making a BBC documentary in Grenada last year about her family’s slave trade history. She said the trip had a “profound” impact, partly because Grenada’s epidemic of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes can be traced back to colonialism.
“We signed our apology and we gave it to the prime minister of Grenada, and he thanked us and forgave us, and said he hoped that this would be a turning point in the fight for reparatory justice,” Trevelyan said of her visit last month, during which she donated a £100,000 ($121,000) reparatory fund.
Trevelyan said she feels “liberated” to talk about the issue of slavery after leaving the BBC, which holds staff to strict rules on impartiality. “I’m ready to have my own voice and I feel that this is a story that I hope I can tell in conjunction with the Caribbean,” she explained.
She now feels empowered to criticise the British royal family for the first time, arguing that its current position of “regret” on slavery “isn’t really cutting it anymore.”
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