On 7 June 2020, the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston was pulled down from its plinth and thrown into Bristol Harbour as the world was waking up to the historical injustices and ongoing systemic racism which surrounds all of us. Jen Reid, who was in attendance, spontaneously climbed onto the empty plinth and raised her fist above her head. That defining moment was memorialised in a statue made in collaboration with artist Marc Quinn, called A Surge of Power. Reid has written a book, A Hero Like Me, imagining these events from a child’s point of view, proving to them that they have the power to change the world.
The Big Issue: What is a hero?
Jen Reid: Heroes demonstrate extraordinary bravery in the face of adversity, standing up for what is right and just. They may display acts of heroism in many different contexts, such as saving lives, fighting for justice, advocating for the oppressed, making significant contributions to society or climbing onto plinths where slave traders once stood dressed as a Black Panther and raising their fists!
Who are your heroes?
Nina Simone actively participated in the civil rights movement. Despite adversity she showed unbelievable courage, perseverance and she stood 10 toes down in her truth. Her impact extends beyond her time. James Baldwin fearlessly tackled themes of race, identity, and social injustice, leaving a lasting impact on American literature. His work transcended boundaries, offering a universal perspective on the human experience.
Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted due to his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam war exemplified his unwavering commitment to his principles. Angela Davis’ contribution and dedication to liberation continues to inspire generations in the struggle for equality. And Joyce Reid, my mum. Her selflessness and unconditional love makes her my number one hero. Her unwavering dedication, guidance and wisdom has shaped me into the powerful woman I am today.