David Livingstone Birthplace and Black Lives Matter

Reading Time 1 minute and 30 seconds
Date 25 May 2022

On 25th May 2020, George Floyd was killed.

His death caused public outcry and led to global protests, as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the time, we were still creating our new exhibition. We knew that Livingstone’s story had direct relevance to many of the contemporary issues being discussed about racism and wanted to recognise that.

Historically, museums were used to prop up colonial agendas and the idea of European superiority. There is no doubt that colonialism is at the root of racism seen today. David Livingstone Birthplace aims to give a true account of history. This means examining historical accounts of Livingstone where he is portrayed as a lone hero and uncovering the full story, based on on-going research. This means including narratives, people, and communities that were previously erased. And it means paying respect to the objects we hold in our collection and the people and communities that they represent.

To advise us on this area, we established the DLB Expert Advisory Group. The group supports and advises us around issues such as Black Lives Matter, decolonisation, slavery, racism and imperialism and Livingstone’s role within these.

The Specialists in our Expert Advisory Group are:

Professor Sir Geoff Palmer – Emeritus Professor at Heriot Watt University and Scotland’s first black professor.

Marenka Thompson-Odlum – Research Associate, Pitt Rivers Museums and a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow. Expert in [decolonisation], museum labelling in relation to this.

S I Martin – Consultant Archivist, Author. He works with museums, archives and the education sector to bring diverse histories to wider audiences. He has worked with The Black Cultural Archives, National Maritime Museum, the V&A, Tate Britain.

Kate Simpson (Chair of the Group and DLBT Board Member) – Lecturer in Information Studies in the School of Humanities at the University of Glasgow. Associate Project Scholar and UK Outreach Director for Livingstone Online.

The work of our Museum and our Experts is on-going and there is more work to be done. However, we promise to continue researching, listening, and collaborating. This is our shared history, and it belongs to everyone.

If you’d like to support our organisation, you can volunteer: https://www.david-livingstone-birthplace.org/volunteers

Also see more postings at in the David Livingstone Birthplace Project Blog.

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We are very grateful to our key funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government for their support in helping us deliver the Birthplace Project.

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Scottish Government
Historic Environment Scotland
Note: Please note that David Livingstone Birthplace (and the David Livingstone Trust) is no longer part of National Trust Scotland (NTS). NTS members will therefore no longer receive discounted/free entry to the Birthplace Museum.

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