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Dr Richard Benjamin’s New Year wish: “A world free from discrimination and hate…”

23 December 2013 by Dickie

A photo of famous Black faces on a wall at the Museum

Nelson Mandela is on the Museum’s Black Achievers Wall. Photo copyright Lee Garland

The Long Walk continues.  Hello, it is always hard to write the final blog of the year.   Like previous years for the Museum, 2013 has been a bit of a whirlwind.  

From film screenings, the Abolitionists and Akwantu: the journey, the launch of the British dance: Black routes exhibition, a diverse Centre for the Study of International Slavery programme, an engaging slavery memorial lecture by Professor Verene Shepherd, a well attended Slavery Remembrance Day, the opening of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building on 28th August for a public event to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, growing links with various NGO’s such as Anti-Slavery International, I could go on and on.

In essence, the Museum is going from strength to strength.

On a personal note, other than being blessed with a loving family, I rather enjoyed cutting the ribbon at the annual City Hearts Walk for Freedom, giving a series of talks in Denmark (great for a design anorak), raising £140 for Movember and receiving the honor of becoming a member of the UNESCO International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project.

However, for all the positive aspects of 2013 there has of course been many somber moments, none greater than the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, one of the few people in the 20th century, who, like Dr. Martin Luther King, is truly iconic.  There is no greater legacy than striving to keep the hopes and dreams of these iconic and inspirational individuals alive.  So let’s strive for equality of rights, freedom of movement and expression, a world basically free from discrimination and hate.   Let the words of the great man end the year:

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.”

Richard

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