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Businesses urged to follow Greene King’s lead as it educates public about slave trade

PUBLISHED: 13:15 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 01 October 2020

Greene King wants to help educate the public about the shocking slave trade which its historic founder was embroiled in   Picture: ADAM SMY

Greene King wants to help educate the public about the shocking slave trade which its historic founder was embroiled in Picture: ADAM SMY

Adam Smy

Bury St Edmunds-based Greene King branded its founder’s links to slavery “inexcusable” as it launched a new partnership to raise awareness about the brutal historic transatlantic trade.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, says the firm's founder's involvement in the slave trade was Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, says the firm's founder's involvement in the slave trade was "inexcusable" Picture: ADAM SMYTH

The brewing and pubs company has teamed up with the International Slavery Museum to educate people about the shocking human exploitation which took place.

Crucially, the museum will work with Greene King to explore its own dark past through the history of its founder, Benjamin Greene, who profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s.

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Greene King employees will also get a chance to take part in online workshops on Understanding Transatlantic Slavery.

The brewer is giving financial backing to the National Museums Liverpool’s Black History Month programme in October, which will be followed by initiatives over the coming months as part of Greene King’s wider inclusion and diversity programme.

Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “There is no place for racism or discrimination anywhere in society and I am proud to be at the beginning of this exciting partnership.

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“We’re working hard to build a more inclusive and diverse workforce with increased opportunities for people from minority ethnic backgrounds, but equally we don’t want to lose sight of the past.

“It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and while that was nearly 200 years ago we can’t pretend it didn’t happen. We want to educate and work with the International Slavery Museum to learn more about the past and better inform our choices for the future.”

Richard Benjamin, Head of International Slavery Museum, said: “The move by Greene King to support Black History Month and commit to working with the International Slavery Museum on educational and transformative initiatives is a positive step in the right direction.

“Reparative justice must acknowledge past abuses and respond to their continuing legacies. We hope that more institutions and businesses in the UK with the same historical links to slavery can be equally as transparent about their origins. We are therefore pleased to work with Greene King, to share our resources and knowledge, and to help them become a more diverse and inclusive employer, one that can be the model for best business practice.”

Greene King’s Bury St Edmunds was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene, who went on to own cane sugar plantations in the West Indies where he owned enslaved Africans and profited from their labour.

Even in that period, his views on slavery were drew criticism from those campaigning for the abolition of slavery, but he was financially compensated when slavery was abolished.


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