The International Slavery Museum is 10. We have had such a journey, done so many things, and met so many people; been involved in controversies, and literally changed people’s lives. So how do you write a blog about all that? Well it’s difficult, so let me take you back to 2008 when we launched our first anniversary exhibition rather unsurprisingly titled ‘We Are One’. As part of the introduction text I wrote the following:
“Integral to the Museum’s interpretation of the story of transatlantic slavery is a belief that Africans, despite their oppression, were the main agents of their own liberation. We hope we represent their stories faithfully. The Museum also sees itself as an active campaigner against racism and discrimination today, and we work closely with a number of human rights organisations. Our Education Centre is named in memory of Anthony Walker, the Black Liverpool teenager who was murdered in 2005… We hope you have been inspired positively by your visit today.”
I believe we have been faithful to those words in our first 10 years because I, and our small dedicated team, have continually strived for that. I remember meeting Presidents, famous personalities, speaking at UNESCO in Paris and the UN in New York.
I am proud of our partnerships with NGOs and human rights organisations such as Anti-Slavery International, I am proud and honoured to know and work with people like Gee Walker, founder of the Anthony Walker Foundation, and mother of Anthony, I am proud to have made close friendships with many members of the Liverpool Black community, some critical friends, but all who believe in what we do and have supported us on our journey; the late Dorothy Kuya, Eric Lynch, Dr Ray Costello, Councilor Anna Rothery, Michelle Charters and many other historians, activists and community figures, they know who they are. The list of our work and achievements is long, diverse, and powerful.
At the heart of our Museum are real people working conscientiously within a difficult area whilst actively fighting the legacies of transatlantic slavery too. This is not easy, not many museums do it, and so I say to all the people who read this blog who have not visited the Museum to do so, and to keep up to date with our plans, such as opening the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. building, the iconic building on the Albert Dock, as part of the Museum. Not everyone agrees with what we do, or how we do it but one thing I do know, if the Museum is not here in 10 years time the city and this country will be a worse place for it. So please, join us on our journey and in the words of the great Curtis Mayfield “Keep On, Keepin’ On”.
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