London Metropolitan University To Rename Sir John Cass School Over His Links To Slave Trade

The university says the use of Cass's name is "incompatible" with its commitment to support the Black community and to actively oppose racism in all forms.

London Metropolitan University is rebranding one of its schools which is named after Sir John Cass, a 17th century merchant with links to the slave trade.

The university’s vice chancellor announced on Wednesday that Cass’s name would be dropped from the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design – known amongst students as “The Cass”.

In a message to students and staff, professor Lynn Dobbs wrote: “We recognise that the use of Sir John Cass’s name contributes to the redemption of a man without acknowledging the enormous pain he caused as a major figure in the early development of the slave trade, and the legacy of this pain.

“The use of his name is incompatible with our commitment to support the black community and to actively oppose racism in all forms.”

A new name for the school in Aldgate, east London, will be decided in consultation with students, staff and alumni, Dobbs said.

“I apologise that we haven’t taken this step before now. We have a total commitment to oppose racism and should have addressed the name of the school sooner.”

The move comes on the same day the University of Liverpool agreed to rename one of it halls, which was a monument to former prime minister William Gladstone.

In parliament, Gladstone defended the rights of owners of slave plantations, such as his father.

The renaming follows a campaign organised by students calling on the university to to show “solidarity in the rejection of Black oppression” following the death of George Floyd in America.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the university said a new name would be chosen for the building through a “democratic process”.

In recent days, a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down by anti-racism campaigners in Bristol, while a monument to slaver Robert Milligan was also removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands.