In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the civil rights movement that followed, there’s been a call to take down many racist related statues and landmarks all over the world. Over the weekend, the plaque that bears the name of the street in Liverpool, Penny Lane, which also served as inspiration for the Beatles song of the same name, was defaced due to possible racist ties. Now the local government is looking into possibly renaming the street.
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The song ‘Penny Lane’ was released by the Beatles in February of 1967 as the alternate A side of their single Strawberry Fields. It was named after a street in the south Liverpool suburb Mossley Hill, as well as its surrounding area. It was a frequent stop for Lennon, McCartney and Harrison during their years as schoolchildren.
Some believe that the street was named after a slave trader named James Penny who transported slaves in the late 1700’s.
Since George Floyd’s death, there has been a call to take down all racist related landmarks throughout the world. The Penny Lane name plaques have been targeted and many have started their own efforts in discouraging the signs’ visibility by graffiti-ing over them. Over the weekend, someone wrote ‘racist’ over one of the signs.
Liverpool’s mayor, Steve Rotherham, is aware of the problem and is committed to further investigating the James Penny tie.
“If it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated,” Rotherman said. “Something needs to happen and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed.”
So far, some amount of investigation has taken place but it has been difficult to find evidence that links James Penny and Penny Lane. Liverpool International Slavery Museum tour guide Jackie Spencer has been quoted as saying “We’ve researched it, and it has nothing to do with slavery. James Penny was a slave trader, but he had nothing to do with the Penny Lane area.”
However, Rotherman is still committed to doing research of his own and says that if a link is found he plans to take action. “It needs to be investigated and then, if it’s found as a direct link, then action can be taken,” he said.
The possible name change is not the only way Floyd’s death has affected the music world. Many musicians joined the blackout movement leaving black squares on their social media accounts in support of Black Lives Matter. Others have spoken out in other ways. Taylor Swift publicly called out for any racist monuments to be eradicated in the state of Tennessee.
It is hopeful that their voices will be heard leading to a positive move forward.