London Metropolitan University has renamed its architecture school with immediate effect due to the role which Sir John Cass, a 17th century merchant and politician, had in promoting the slave trade
The school will now be known as the School of Art, Architecture and Design until a new name is decided upon following consultation with staff and students.
Lynn Dobbs, vice-chancellor of London Met, said the use of 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’.
She added: ‘The use of his name is incompatible with our commitment to support the black community and to actively oppose racism in all forms.’
Dobbs also apologised for not having renamed the school sooner.
Cass was born in 1661 and died in 1718. He was involved in slave trading through his membership of the Royal African Company Court of Assistants between 1705 and 1708. As a director at the company, he had dealings with representatives in slave forts in West Africa as well as agents in the Caribbean.
In later life, Cass also developed property around Aldgate, including St Boltoph’s Church in 1709. He was elected as a Tory MP in 1710 and was knighted in 1712. Much of his wealth was handed down to philanthropic funds.
Cass’s name continues to be used by the University of East London’s school of education, City University’s business school and a hall of residence belonging to the University of the Arts. There are a number of statues of Cass around London.
Until we have a new name, we'll be known as The School of Art, Architecture and Design. Please see the statement below. pic.twitter.com/sW7itQ1z1P— Art, Architecture and Design at LondonMet (@LdnMetArts) June 10, 2020