Pub owner set to change names of pubs with racist overtones
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Greene King is set to change the names of two Suffolk pubs because of their racist connotations.
The Bury St Edmunds-based group will be holding a public vote for selecting new names for The Black Boy pubs in Bury St Edmunds and in Sudbury to be chosen from a shortlist being drawn up.
Pub tenants Katie Martin at the Black Boy in Sudbury and Mark Eames at the Black Boy in Bury St Edmunds have been consulted about the move.
The firm has also carried out detailed consultation with a range of stakeholders and research on the pubs’ histories.
Many of those consulted felt the name to be offensive and discriminatory, it said.
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Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said it was important to acknowledge the company's history but "just as important to work proactively to eradicate racism in our society today".
Greene King was itself was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene, who went on to own cane sugar plantations in the West Indies where he owned
African slaves and profited from their labour. The company branded its founder’s links to slavery “inexcusable” as it launched a new partnership to raise awareness about the brutal historic transatlantic trade, and apologised for its founder's past.
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It had looked "long and hard" at how to ensure that its pubs were welcoming to everyone, said Mr Mackenzie.
“We have looked at pub deeds, consulted with colleagues and while the origins of this pub name is obscure what is clear is that there is a perception that it is linked with racism today and we want to make this positive change for the better," he said.
“We know this is a decision that will attract a range of views and we’re conscious of the history and heritage of pub names. We’ve thought long and hard and feel this is the right thing to do as it is incredibly important to us that our pubs are warm and welcoming places for everyone as we continue on our journey to become a truly anti-racist organisation.
“We’re keen to involve local people in this project and look forward to working with them to choose a new and inclusive name for these pubs so they remain at the heart of communities.”
Community groups will be notified about an online poll shortly, so that people can pick from a list of suggested names.
Katie Martin of the Black Boy in Sudbury said: “I’m happy to work alongside Greene King to proactively eradicate racism. I’m keen to work with the people of Sudbury to choose a new name for this great pub and hotel that does not attract the same concern and questions as the current name.
“As a society, we need to work together to be fully inclusive in all aspects of life and business, and I feel a change of name would help make sure everyone feels included and welcome when they visit my historical pub and hotel.”
Mark Eames of the Black Boy in Bury St Edmunds said: “Now is the right time to make this change and I look forward to the new name continuing to reflect the heritage and history of this pub which has been a part of Bury St Edmunds for hundreds of years.”
The renaming of the pubs was part of an "inclusion and diversity strategy to champion equality and diversity within the company and increase support for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds", said the company.
Last year, it pledged to significantly invest in initiatives to support more young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to begin a career in hospitality.
An employee-led group - Unity - has also been created to represent Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Greene King is also looking to rename one other pub called The Black Boy in Shinfield, near Reading, as well as a pub called The Blacks Head in Wirksworth.