Guest blog by Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside, who looks ahead to Slavery Remembrance Day which she believes fuses the past and the present. Mrs Ellman has attended every single Slavery Remembrance Day since 1999.
“Commemorating Slavery Remembrance Day in Liverpool is very special. It is a grim reminder of the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade and an important part of the vital task of educating present and future generations about the enormity of this assault on human dignity and freedom. The consequences of the devastation it wrought on long-established African communities are still felt today.
The Libation ceremony, with its recollections and incantations, brings a powerful fusion of past and present. The day is also about celebrating the role of individual slaves like Toussaint L’Ouverture who won freedom for St Domingue (now Haiti).
Liverpool’s role is significant. The city benefited from slavery through its merchants and ship owners. Yet it was also part of the opposition to slavery through the work of, eg, William Rathbone IV who founded the Liverpool Committee for the abolition of the slave trade and worked with William Wilberforce.
Liverpool has played a pivotal role in slavery remembrance. The late Sir Richard Foster, then Director of National Museums Liverpool, organised Liverpool’s first Slavery Remembrance ceremony on 22nd August 1999.
More recently, Dr David Fleming (its current Director), inaugurated the ground-breaking International Slavery Museum, another first for Liverpool. I was privileged to be present at both events.
Slavery remembrance is not just about the past. It must reinforce our determination to abolish contemporary slavery, including human trafficking, oppose racism and celebrate diversity and multiracialism.
This cannot be achieved on one day a year but International Slavery Remembrance Day is an important start.”
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