Liverpool Remembers Slavery

Liverpool Remembers Slavery
Commemorative events plus new International Slavery Museum

They will remember that we were sold but they won’t remember that we were strong.
They will remember that we were bought, but not that we were brave.

William Prescott, former slave 1937

Liverpool will mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade with a series of events, and the opening of the International Slavery Museum in August. Liverpool, central to the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century, is a fitting location in which to commemorate the anniversary of this important landmark.

The galleries of the museum will open in Liverpool on 23 August, Slavery Remembrance Day 2007, a day that commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of St Domingo (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1791. Designated by UNESCO, the date was chosen as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.

To accompany the opening of the International Slavery Museum, there is a programme of events and activities planned in Liverpool in 2007. These range from a series of debates to a schools twinning programme.

The year-long programme of events for 2007 has been generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a grant of £50,000 and includes a series of lectures and debates, two multi-faith cathedral services and a family history event.

The first debate on 14 March from 5pm
, chaired by Stephen Small, associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, will explore the abolition of the British Slave Trade and the different abolitionists active at the time.

25 March will mark 200 years – to the day – that the Parliamentary Bill was passed to abolish the slave trade in the former British Empire. To commemorate the date a multi-faith Service of Penitence will take place at Liverpool Cathedral in partnership with Churches Together on 24 March 2007.
The lecture programme will explore a range of topics from the economic impact of the abolition to contemporary slavery and will feature speakers such as Professor Joseph Inikori of the University of Rochester, USA and Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah-Geechee Nation.

This year’s Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations promise to be better than ever and will feature a memorial lecture by Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, a distinguished author – most recently of The History of Africa – and Professor in the Department of African-American Studies at Temple University, USA. There will also be a day-long programme of performances, children’s activities and a libation to commemorate this important day.

As part of a range of contemporary art In August the Merseyside Maritime Museum is host to La Bouche du Roi, an artwork by Romauld Hazoumé.
The structure of La Bouche du Roi is based on a famous late-18th century print of the Liverpool slave ship the Brookes, and is a powerful memorial to the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. A multi-media artwork, it has been created using over three hundred ‘masks’ made from plastic petrol cans used by motorcyclists who run black market fuel between Benin and Nigeria. The artwork was recently acquired by the British Museum with the help of the Art Fund and the British Museum Friends.

An International Schools Twinning Programme will take place in June. This collaborative project with Plan International will see five schools in Liverpool work with schools from Senegal, Brazil, Haiti and Sierra Leone to focus on issues affecting young people. They will examine what it means to be free, how to safeguard liberty and tackle what slavery really means.


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