Sites of Memory – 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle (left) and Lady Elizabeth Murray. From the collection of the Earl of Mansfield, Scone Palace, Perth.

The English Heritage Organization has put together a tour in England related to the abolition of the slave trade.

When the stories behind our local streets and landmarks are told they can give us a glimpse into the history on our doorstep. The late 16th to early 19th centuries – the period of Britain’s most active involvement in the transatlantic slave trade – have left a wealth of evidence in records and the historic environment that today tells the story of anti-slavery campaigners from all backgrounds, of those who grew wealthy on the trade in human lives and also of those who were themselves slaves in England but nevertheless left their mark on history.”

So far you can choose from The Slave Trade and Plantation Wealth, Black Lives in England, and Abolitionists.

Note: All the sites identified in this guide can be seen from public spaces, though not all are open to the public. Contact details are given where possible. Please check access details before visiting.

Find out more here.

While you’re in London – Inhuman Traffic: The Business of the Slave Trade (more on the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade)

This small exhibition explores how the Transatlantic Slave Trade functioned.

It covers more than 500 years, including the Parliamentary Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807.

It features resistance leaders including Toussaint l’Ouverture, Olaudah Equiano and Nanny of the Maroons, and their continuing legacy of the struggle to end enslavement.

Admission free
Until 6 April 2008
Room 69a at the British Museum

La Bouche Du Roi

Image: La Bouche du Roi, by Romuald Hazoum??

La Bouche du Roi was created between 1997 and 2005 by Romuald Hazoum??, an artist from the Republic of Benin, West Africa. Literally translated as ???The Mouth of the King???, the title refers to a place in B??nin from where many thousands of slaves were transported to the Americas and the Caribbean.

However, La Bouche du Roi is primarily a warning against all kinds of human greed, exploitation and enslavement, both historical and contemporary. A profound and thought-provoking artistic statement by artist Romuald Hazoum??, it is made from a combination of materials, including petrol cans, spices, and audio and visual elements, the artwork???s arrangement recalls the famous 18th-century print of the slave ship, the Brookes, which was used to great effect by Abolitionists.

A recitation of Yoruba, Mahi and W??m?? names, the terrible sounds and smells of a slave ship, and a video of black market petrol-runners in modern Benin are other elements which combine to make La Bouche du Roi a truly remarkable and thought-provoking work of art in which the connections between past, present and future are made profoundly real.

Bristol???s City Museum
15 September ??? 28 October 2007

Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
10 November ??? 3 February 2008

Horniman Museum
5 December 2008 ??? 1 March 2009

Slavery: Resistance amid the horror By Jane Perlez Published: August 23, 2007

Exhibits at the new International Slavery Museum in Liverpool span the sufferings endured by slaves to the achievements realized by people of African heritage worldwide. (Jonathan Player for The New York Times)

LIVERPOOL: The riverside docks here, now a gentrified quarter, were a critical pivot in the trans-Atlantic slave trade when this city rose from seedy port to rich entrep??t in the 17th century.

From Liverpool, traders sailed forth with guns and metals to sell in Africa, and from the proceeds bought slaves for the flourishing markets in the Americas. After the merchants sold their human cargo, their ships returned home brimming with sugar, cotton, coffee and tobacco.

To commemorate and, more important, elucidate this dark passage of the city’s past, the International Slavery Museum opened here Thursday, part of a series of events across Britain on the bicentenary of the 1807 British law that banned the slave trade.

The windows at this compact museum’s entrance, on the third floor of a refurbished Victorian warehouse, overlook the gray and blustery Mersey River; it is a vista that conjures the sailing ships, hard-nosed traders, sailors, African and Asian servants, and runaways who journeyed to Africa.

But rather than focus on the local story, Richard Benjamin, who directs the new museum and is a Briton of Guyanese descent, takes a different tack. Under his guidance, some of the museum exhibits thrust the visitor directly into the cultures of West Africa, emphasizing that many slaves came from a proud heritage that continues to thrive. Its aim is to be an educational institution rather than primarily a repository of important artifacts.

Full article here.


Notes from England: Black and Asian women are "missing" from almost a third of workplaces in areas with significant ethnic minority populations

As it releases the results of a two-year investigation, which reveals for the first time the full scale of the workplace penalties faced by Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is today calling for a fundamental cultural shift in the way black and Asian women are treated at work and by public policy makers.

Moving on Up: Ethnic Minority Women at Work, the largest investigation of its kind in Great Britain, has established that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women face significantly greater penalties than white women in the workplace. Those who want to work are finding it more difficult to get jobs, progress within them and are more likely to be segregated into certain types of work, despite leaving school with the same career aspirations as white girls and similar or better qualifications than white boys.

In areas with above average numbers of black and Asian women participating in the local labour market, BME women are entirely absent from 3 out of 10 workplaces and under-represented in almost 3 out of 5 workplaces. The EOC’s report suggests it’s not too late to set the country on a different course. 28% of employers surveyed said they intended to introduce steps to improve the recruitment and progression of black and Asian women. However, the same percentage said they were unsure what action to take.

The EOC is today urging Britain???s employers and policy makers to catch up with the diversity of modern Britain and develop ???cultural intelligence??? – the awareness, understanding and confidence to communicate and relate positively to people from different cultural backgrounds, to get the best from them at work and design policy that meets their needs.

The EOC warns that cultural intelligence is absolutely crucial if Britain is to avoid paying a high economic and social price. Between 2001 and 2020, ethnic minority people are expected to account for over 70% of the growth in the UK population aged 16-59. With Britain???s employers facing skills shortages, it is crucial to tap into a growing and increasingly well-qualified pool of young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women’s talent if we are to maintain economic growth.

And with access to jobs being a key ingredient of community cohesion, policy makers will fail to build stronger communities unless black and Asian women’s skills and ambitions translate into better-paid jobs in a wider range of organisations.

Read the entire press release here.

By the numbers:

Breakdown of Black Caribbean women in English cities (Sources: ONS (2004) Census 2001: CD Supplement to the National report for England and Wales; GROS (2004) Scotland???s Census 2001: CD 5 Volume 1.):

Birmingham: 25,700
Bradford: 1,500
Leeds: 3,600
Leicester: 2,500
London: 191,500
Manchester: 4,700