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Posts by Richard

Claim no easy victories: Cape Verde and Cabral

12 November 2015 by Richard

Poetry performance at Cidade Velha

Poetry performance at Cidade Velha


I have just returned from Cape Verde where I attended a committee meeting and colloquium in my role as the UK representative of the UNESCO Slave Route project. Read more…

A visit to Tate – Glen Ligon : Encounters and Collisions

15 October 2015 by Richard

Glenn Ligon - Untitled 2006

Glenn Ligon Untitled 2006
© Glenn Ligon; courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, London

In this guest blog, produced for Tate Liverpool, I talk of my recent visit to the gallery’s major exhibition curated by one of America’s most distinguished contemporary artists, Glenn Ligon (b.1960, New York) – Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions.

My first guest blog for Tate Liverpool also happens to be during UK Black History Month (rather than US Black History Month which is in February).  Dr. Carter G. Woodson, often referred to as the father of African American history, established what was originally called ‘Negro History Week’ in 1926.   The week became a month, February chosen as it contains the birthdays of influential figures such as Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. It was against this backdrop that I visited Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions at Tate Liverpool. Read more…

Slavery Remembrance Day: unless we remember, it will not end

20 August 2015 by Richard

Dorothy Kuya with Paul Robeson, Jr. 2007

Dorothy Kuya with Paul Robeson, Jr. 2007

Ahead of Slavery Remembrance Day on Sunday 23 August, Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, explains the background to the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, and writes on the importance of this annual commemoration:  Read more…

Walking in the footsteps of Glasgow’s past

5 August 2014 by Richard

Crowds outside the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art


Last week I spoke at the ‘Untold Stories, Buried Histories’ panel event in Glasgow, part of  The Empire Café, a week long exploration of Scotland’s relationship with slavery and Atlantic slave trade.  It was planned so that it ran for the duration of the Commonwealth Games.  This is particularly interesting as the legacy and relevancy of the Commonwealth is widely discussed and debated.   It did not take me long to see the legacy of Glasgow’s role in the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as I walked to the venue past the Gallery of Modern Art (once the townhouse of William Cunninghame, a prominent Glaswegian tobacco merchant) and Buchanan and Ingram Streets, both named after merchants who also became rich on the suffering of those working on their plantations. Read more…

Maya Angelou: a soulful life

30 May 2014 by Richard

Maya Angelou at TSGHello,

Sadly, the great poet, author and activist Maya Angelou – born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928 has passed.  She opened the Transatlantic Slavery gallery (predecessor to the International Slavery Museum) in 1994. Tony Tibbles, who later became the Director of the Merseyside Maritime Museum, worked closely on the development of the groundbreaking gallery and wrote an interesting article on how it came to be.   He notes how they persuaded Maya Angelou to attend the opening and indeed we still have a plaque in our collection which marks this unique event.  Read more…

A short history of violence

19 March 2014 by Richard

Copy of IMG_2199

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum looks at the different ways museums have told the story of violence. Read more…

Let’s keep Mandela legacy alive

10 December 2013 by Richard

green and yellow banner with the words Liverpool 8 against apartheid

Liverpool 8 Against Apartheid banner used in the 1980s.

Like millions of people across the globe I was saddened to hear the news that one of the great leaders of modern times – and a true freedom fighter – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba, has passed away.  Such news is often hard to digest; things really don’t quite seem the same when someone of such stature, such presence and indeed familiarity is no longer with us.  But someone like Mandela will always leave an enormously influential legacy – in his case – hope rather than hate.   Even though he spent 27 years of his life in prison for his beliefs, fighting for political freedom and social justice, he still had the courage and character not to be engulfed by rage on his release from Robben Island in 1990. Read more…

If walls could talk…

17 October 2013 by Richard


Barbican Estate, London

Hello, First of all, please do check out our diverse list of Black History Month activities including several related to our most recent exhibition British dance: Black routes. Read more…

Slavery Remembrance Day – the journey continues

5 September 2013 by Richard

Flower arrangement saying 'We remember'

Another Slavery Remembrance Day has now passed but this does not mean that we consign its message, what it means to the people of Liverpool and beyond, to one side for another year. The core message, that of “We remember” from the descendants of enslaved Africans, members of the Diaspora and the wider public only has meaning when we work to make sure that the sacrifices, and achievements, of the ancestors are recognized to make the world a better place. Idealistic, maybe, but without a “dream” the legacies of four hundred years of enslavement, and resistance, would be forgotten. The world is not yet a place with full equality and freedom for all, free from discrimination or racism, but it’s a place where many people refuse to let the past sleep, to go unrecognized.  Read more…

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building

2 September 2013 by Richard

 Martin Luther King building

Richard Benjamin on the steps of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building

On the 28th August we opened the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building, which is next to the International Slavery Museum.  It was opened to the public just for the day, for a series of events to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr King’s now iconic speech. This has became known as the “I Have a Dream” speech – delivered on the steps of the iconic Lincoln memorial in Washington, D.C. on a scorching hot summer’s day in 1963 to a crowd of over 250,000.

Read more…

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