The preliminary review findings, released last month, showed links between the York-based confectionery company and a type of slavery known as a colonial contract in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The review also said that the company profited from the sale of cocoa products made by enslaved people.
There is no suggestion that Joseph Rowntree, the renowned Quaker social reformer whose company funds still endow four charities in his name, was aware of or complicit in the practices.
But charities, which include the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, one of the UK’s leading anti-poverty organizations, said they were “dismayed” by the initial findings and have committed to further research to understand the extent of the injustices.
They are among many heritage organizations, including the National Trust, that have examined uncomfortable aspects of their past in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement gaining momentum last year.
Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, said: “The Rowntrees are a huge part of our city and they have a great legacy. It’s okay to get it checked out, but we must not forget what the Rowntree family did for York and our area at the same time.
“When they started, life was different than it is now.
“The Rowntrees did an amazing job and were very supportive of our city.”
A more in-depth review of the company’s practices will take place later this year following initial findings from the heritage organization Rowntree Society.
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This notice was published: 2021-05-02 15:10:02