UK Insurance Market Lloyd’s of London ‘Deeply Sorry’ For Role In Slave Trade

The corporate giant offers an apology and programs but no reparations.

Lloyd’s of London, the giant U.K. insurance and reinsurance market founded in 1688, has apologized for its historic link to slavery.

“We are deeply sorry for the Lloyd’s market’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade,” a statement said. “It is part of our shared history that caused enormous suffering and continues to have a negative impact on Black and ethnically diverse communities today.”

The company was the global center for insuring Britain’s vast shipping business that transported some 3.2 million enslaved people from Africa to plantations in the Caribbean, North, Central and South America.

In 2020, racial justice protests in the United States over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer spread across the Atlantic, reaching London and other British cities.

The demonstrations prompted Lloyd’s to issue its initial apology and to commission independent research into the company’s role in the slave trade, according to the BBC.

Academics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore conducted the Mellon Foundation-funded study recently published as a digital exhibit.

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Lloyd’s was part of “a sophisticated network of financial interests and activities" that enabled the slave trade to thrive, said Johns Hopkins sociology professor Alexandre White, who led the Black Beyond Data project.

The project examined items in Lloyd’s collection with significant connections to slavery to contextualize the company’s role, including slave ship ledgers.

"While the activities of insurers in the city of London may seem far removed from the plantations, ships and the violent spaces of imprisonment along the coast of Africa, the financial architectures developed at Lloyd's helped maintain the institution of slavery," White added.

Lloyd’s announced steps to make amends, including investing the equivalent of $48.8 million and introducing comprehensive initiatives to tackle inequality, the BBC reports.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Lloyd’s chairman, said, “We're resolved to take action by addressing the inequalities still seen and experienced by Black and ethnically diverse individuals."

But racial justice advocates say that’s not enough.

"If they were serious they would be proposing a transfer of wealth to the descendants of the enslaved (i.e. reparations), not a diversity scheme for so called 'ethnically diverse' people, which any corporation should be doing,"  Kehinde Andrews, Professor of Black Studies at the University of Birmingham, told the BBC.

The Bank of England and the Church of England have also apologized for their roles in the slave trade, CNN reported at the height of Britain’s Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

However, there’s little discussion about reparations. The British government compensated enslavers the current equivalent of $20.6 billion after Parliament abolished colonial slavery in 1833. But the government did not compensate enslaved people.

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Former British Caribbean colonies announced in September that they would press the British royal family,  Lloyd’s, and other British institutions involved in the slave trade for reparations.

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