The governing body of Oriel College at Oxford University has tonight said that it has recommended that its statue of colonialist benefactor Cecil Rhodes be taken down.
It also said that it would launch an inquiry into the issues surrounding the statue, which has been the subject of student protests for five years.
In recent days, anti-racism protests against the statue have been reinvigorated in worldwide outcry against the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in the US.
On 9 June a large demonstration against the statue took place outside the college, days after a statue of slaver Edward Colston was toppled into a river in Bristol.
Rhodes, who attended Oriel when he was a student, left the college a significant endowment, including funding the famous Rhodes scholarships, recipients of which have included former US president Bill Clinton.
Over the course of his life, Rhodes played a huge role in Britain’s imperial expansion in southern Africa, giving his name to Rhodesia – present day Zimbabwe and founding the De Beers mining company.
In a statement, Oriel’s governing body said: “The Governing Body of Oriel College has today voted to launch an independent Commission of Inquiry into the key issues surrounding the Rhodes statue.
“They also expressed their wish to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes and the King Edward Street Plaque. This is what they intend to convey to the Independent Commission of Inquiry.
“Both of these decisions were reached after a thoughtful period of debate and reflection, and with the full awareness of the impact these decisions are likely to have in Britain and around the world.”