Colston Four Road: Residents react to Easton street name-change

‘It all starts with language’

Residents living on a road named after Edward Colston have deemed a move to rename the street after the group that tore his statue down ‘potentially problematic’, with one suggesting it may ‘over-glorify’ white people in the fight against racism.

Colston Road in Easton is unofficially no more after unknown protestors covered the original sign and replaced it with one that reads ‘Colston Four Road’ over the weekend.

The new name is in honour of Sage Willoughby, Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford and Jake Skuse, who were found not guilty of criminal damage after pulling the Colston statue from its plinth during anti-racism protests in June 2020.

‘Toppled Rd’ has also been sprayed in golden graffiti opposite the new sign in a further nod to the group.

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Speaking to BristolWorld, residents seemed to welcome any move to dismantle Colston’s legacy across Bristol, but were unsure if not the name struck the right tone.

Alice Guthrie, who was at the Black Lives Matter protest during which the Colston statue was toppled, said: “It’s hugely, massively important for the city to change the narrative around celebrating this slave trader, and it starts with language.

‘Toppled Rd’ sprayed in graffiti opposite the new sign.

“There are so many Colston names around the city and it’s super offensive. They should all be changed as part of the process but that’s not the only thing that needs to happen.”

She added: “I was at the protest, and I followed the Colston Four trial closely, and it’s very moving that it went the right way.

Alice Guthrie was concerned the name change was just another way for white people to comandeer the conversation around racism.

“But they’re all white, as I understand, so it could be a problematic.

“Maybe there is a risk of over-glorifying those particular people. It was the result of many, many years of struggle by black people that we got to that point, we were protesting for George Floyd.

“We white people tend to take up a lot of space in this conversation and I think it’s important for us to be allies, but also to know when to stand back.”

Perhaps it would be better if Colston’s name was just dropped altogether, said local mum Hannah.

A local mum who gave her name as Hannah agreed, but added: “While I do think it’s great, and it’s obviously celebrating the people who pulled down the Colston statue, his name is still there.

“Maybe it would be best to just not have the name there at all.”

Jules Cook said: “I think if you’re leaving the name there, it leaves a story.

The new name means that future generations can learn the story of the Colston 4, said Jules Cook

“If it was changed to something else entirely, people might not know what happened.

“It’s great and actually long overdue. I think he needs to go.”

Local shopkeeper Norr Mohamed questioned what kind of effect the new road name would have in a far-out area like Easton.

Shopkeeper Norr Mohamed doesn’t mind either way.

He said: “I think people are more likely to have a reaction about Colston Street, which is in the town centre.

“It’s not really something my customers have brought up. I’m happy for them to change the name or leave it as it is.”