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Pub retailer and brewer Greene King will be renaming four of its public houses following concerns that their current names have racist connotations.
The company is changing the names of three pubs currently called 'The Black Boy', which are located in Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Shinfield, as well as a fourth called 'Black's Head' in Wirksworth. Community votes will be held in order to choose the new names.
The renaming of the four establishments is part of Greene King's inclusion and diversity strategy to champion equality and diversity within the company, and to further support people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
The decision to change the name follows detailed consultation with a range of stakeholders and thorough research of the pubs' histories.
Nick Mackenzie, Greene King CEO, said: "It is important to acknowledge our history but just as important to work proactively to eradicate racism in our society today.
"We have looked at pub deeds, consulted with colleagues and while the origins of these pub names are obscure, what is clear is that there is a perception that they are linked with racism today and we want to make this positive change for the better.
"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."
Dr Halima Begum, director of the Runnymede Trust - the UK's leading independent race equality think tank - welcomed the news, saying that Greene King should be acknowledged for the steps taken.
She told the BBC: "The company has made several symbolic efforts to address its founder's legacy of oppression, not least by diversifying its hiring practices and through its work with the Slavery Museum in Liverpool - but is the renaming of a few pubs enough to make amends? No. Not in the slightest.
"No doubt members of BAME communities walk past these hostelries and read the names above the door every day. They are essentially having the history of oppression rubbed in their faces on a daily basis.
"We should not single out Greene King. Many companies that remain household names today profited from the unconscionable ownership and exploitation of black people."
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