Birmingham Stage Company


4 June 2021

I’m a fairly well-educated man and I thought I knew about the African slave trade, but I have been left reeling by a new book called BLOOD LEGACY. It’s author, Alex Renton, has gone back through his family’s extensive archives and discovered that his ancestors were slave owners. Their meticulous records and letters have allowed him to reveal the extraordinary paradox of highly educated and esteemed members of the Scottish elite exercising unstinting determination to make money from enslaved Africans. Here are people who saw no conflict between caring for the poor in Scotland while owning plantations that enslaved, tortured and exploited hundreds of men, women and children for decades. In the short space of time it has taken me to read it, my view of Great Britain has altered completely and I’m staggered by my ignorance. I understand, as never before, the unending struggle it has created for black people through the generations. I have been forced to question my own responsibility in all the areas in which I am involved in exploitation, which pretty much involves every decision I make, from the animals I eat to the planet I live on. It’s a story set in the past that has exploded my present. I think it’s fair to say that BLOOD LEGACY may be the most important book I’ve ever read. Moreover, it’s not overstatement to say I think our country would be a different place if everyone in Britain read it. It’s a story of our past, present and the future ahead.

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