Statue Toppled in Bristol City Centre – English Reading Comprehension Exercise

A statue of a 17th century slave trader known as Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol city centre on Sunday 7th of June. The statue had stood in Bristol city centre since 1895 but was pulled down by anti-racism protestors after a day of unrest in the south-west English city. Earlier in the day the protestors had attended a demonstration against racial discrimination, sparked after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis the week before.

After the demonstration a group of protestors approached the statue with anger, pelting it with eggs and daubing it in paint. Then two people jumped onto the plinth and attached ropes around the head of the statue so it could be pulled down. After it fell, protestors dragged it to the edge of the harbour in Bristol and dumped it in the river to the sound of cheers from the crowd.

Edward Colston lived between the years 1636 and 1721 and was well known in the Bristol area as a slave owner, businessman and philanthropist. In 1680 he became an official of the Royal African Company which at the time was the only company that traded slaves in Britain. During his time, he is estimated to have transported over 84,000 people from Africa to America and the Caribbean to become slaves. It is also estimated that during the passage across the Atlantic, over 19,000 people died on the route and were thrown into the sea. He had also been a Conservative MP for some years before his death.

Many people were upset for a long time that his statue still stood in Bristol city centre. There had been petitions to have it removed before it was toppled. Historians and activists have commended the toppling of the statue as a ‘historic moment’ but others, including the conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson have called it ‘wrong’ and ‘a criminal act.’

One witness to the toppling of the statue said ‘Edward Colston sent thousands to their deaths in the sea and now he is the one who sleeps with the fishes’. The debacle with the statue has prompted many local councils in England to review their own statues and whether they are ethical. Many monuments to slave traders still exist in the country.

Now try the quizzes below to test your knowledge!

Statue Toppled in Bristol Definitions Quiz

Try to match the words in bold from the article with the definitions

Statue Toppled in Bristol True or False Quiz

How well did you understand the article? Find out here with the True or False Quiz

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