The Lloyd’s of London insurance market has apologized for its “shameful” role in the 18th and 19th Century Atlantic slave trade and pledged to fund opportunities for black and ethnic minority groups.
About 17 million African men, women and children were torn from their homes and shackled into one of the world’s most brutal globalized trades between the 15th and 19th centuries. Many died in merciless conditions.
“We are sorry for the role played by the Lloyd’s market in the 18th and 19th Century slave trade – an appalling and shameful period of English history, as well as our own,” Lloyd’s said in a statement last week.
“Recent events have shone a spotlight on the inequality that black people have experienced over many years as a result of systematic and structural racism that has existed in many aspects of society and unleashed difficult conversations that were long overdue,” it added.
The world’s leading commercial insurance market, Lloyd’s – which started life in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in 1688 – is where complex insurance contracts ranging from catastrophe to events cancellation are agreed and underwritten
Lloyd’s grew to dominate the shipping insurance market, a key element of Europe’s global scramble for empire, treasure and slaves, who were usually in the 18th Century included in insurance policies in the general rate for ship cargo.
Weapons and gunpowder from Europe were swapped for African slaves who were shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas.
Those who survived endured a life of subjugation on plantations, while the ships returned to Europe laden with sugar, cotton and tobacco.
Although Britain abolished the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807, full abolition did not follow for another generation.
Lloyd’s said it would invest in programs to attract black and minority ethnic talent, review its artifacts to ensure they were not racist and support charities and organizations promoting opportunity for black and minority ethnic people.