Posts by Richard
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 1st 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”.
15 October 2015 by Richard
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…
20 August 2015 by Richard
This year the International Slavery Museum will be leading on the city’s 16th Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations.
This has become a key date not only in the calendar of the International Slavery Museum, but nationally, with people coming from around the UK to engage with a series of events – both contemplative and commemorative.
On Friday 21 August 2016 the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building will host the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, named in honour of a friend of the Museum, supporter of Slavery Remembrance Day and indefatigable campaigner against injustice and racism. Dorothy sadly passed away in 2013 and it was a great honour for the Museum when Dorothy’s family members gave their blessing to name our annual lecture after their much loved Aunty Dorothy. Read more…
5 August 2014 by Richard
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…
30 May 2014 by Richard
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…
10 December 2013 by Richard
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…
5 September 2013 by Richard
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…