Britain's imperfect past needs to be acknowledged |Letters

It’s time for a new museum of the British empire and Commonwealth, writes Gerard Crawshaw, while Linda Rhead recommends reading Reni Eddo-Lodge for insight into the police and race. Plus Shirley Franklin applauds the changing of a street name

During a debate on historical injustices such as the slave trade, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said that the Commonwealth “must acknowledge the past” (Report, 6 July). They are right. How are we to do this? The school curriculum can (and I feel will) be changed to reflect the Black Lives Matter agenda. But what of those of us who have left school and are, let’s face it, never going to read weighty tomes on the history of the British empire? I suggest it is now time to revive the idea of a publicly funded museum of the British empire and Commonwealth.

Such a museum (albeit privately funded) did exist in Bristol, but was closed to visitors in 2009. The contents were transferred to Bristol Museum, where they are being preserved and catalogued, but I have been unable to determine if, or where, they will be displayed in future. Perhaps gallery space could be made available in the British Museum by returning some of its current items to the countries from which they were appropriated?
Gerard Crawshaw
Frome, Somerset

• I strongly recommend that the Independent Office for Police Conduct reads pages 42-46 of Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race if they would genuinely like some insight into why some police act as they do (Police in England and Wales face inquiry into possible racial bias, 9 July). It outlines Hendon police college’s response to the lecturer John Fernandes’s findings in asking police cadets to write anonymous essays on the topic of black people in Britain. His quotations from those essays are shocking. Even worse was the response of “a senior” at the college. The result was that John felt unable to continue teaching at the college.
Linda Rhead
Hampton, London

• The Black Lives Matter movement has had a wonderfully positive impact on the removal of racist icons across the world. So for our family, and no doubt for the people of Norwich, it is great news that a street in the city, named after the DNA scientist James Watson, will now be named after my aunt, Rosalind Franklin, about whom Watson was patronising and sexist. The University of Portsmouth has a similar plan for its James Watson hall of residence.
Shirley Franklin
Brockenhurst, Hampshire

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