IT remains, to this day, a stain on Glasgow and on one of its great institutions.

The city enjoyed rising prosperity in the 18th Century thanks to its links to the slave trade and its tobacco barons and businessmen grew wealthy off the backs of Africans.

Now, in an effort not only to accept responsibility for its part in the slave trade but also to deliver something positive from its past wrongs, the University of Glasgow has agreed to fund a £20 million programme of “reparative justice” over its historical links to slavery.

And so a memorandum of understanding was signed at a ceremony yesterday in Jamaica.

Those gathered in attendance watched as a simple stroke of the pen – and a shake of hands and a room full of smiles – did more in a single moment than had been done in the decades before to address the wrongs of the past.

The signatures forged a bond between the Scottish institution and the University of the West Indies, following a report that found Glasgow University – like the city itself – had financially benefited from the “appalling and heinous” slave trade.

The agreement between the two institutions will lead to the creation of the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research.

It is a bold and ambitious plan that will expand with the £20m, to be raised by Glasgow University over 20 years, to fund the project.

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The centre itself will host events, sponsor research and co-ordinate academic collaborations between the universities.

It will also aim to raise public awareness of the history of slavery and its impact around the world so no one can forget its evils.

No-one involved is hiding, no-one shirking their past. If anything they are shouting about it, so no-one can ever forget.

After signing the Memorandum of Understanding in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, chief operating officer of the University of Glasgow, Dr David Duncan, described the ceremony as a “historic occasion” for the two universities.

Dr Duncan added: “When we commissioned our year-long study into the links the University of Glasgow had with historical slavery, we were conscious both of the proud part that Glasgow played in the abolitionist movement and an awareness that we would have benefited, albeit indirectly, from that appalling and heinous trade.

“From the very first we determined to be open, honest and transparent with the findings, and to produce a programme of reparative justice.

“In this we were greatly assisted by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, who was one of our external advisers.”

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He added: “I am delighted that as a result of the report we are now able to sign a memorandum of understanding between the University of Glasgow and the UWI and I look forward to the many collaborative ventures.”

Professor Sir Hilary said he was “proud of the decision of the University of Glasgow to take this bold, moral, historic step” in recognising the slavery aspect of its past.

Another commemorative signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in honour of the enslaved will take place in Glasgow.

The unveiling takes place on August 23, It might be a small part, it may even have gone unnoticed by some, but even in this the day finds itself coinciding with Unesco’s international day of remembrance of the slave trade.