Posts by Richard
On Wednesday I gave a talk for the West Derby Society at the very grand Lowlands built in 1846. The taxi driver, on being told what I did for a living, said something along the lines of ‘great museum, but not everyone in Liverpool supported and profited from slavery.’ I explained that we don’t say that, we talk about Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, and of course we focus on Liverpool, it is after all where we are located, Liverpool took the trade to a new level, there were over 5,000 slave voyages made from the port plus several other facts. I also pointed out that new research is shedding light on the diverse range of people (plantation owners/profiteers not the enslaved) that were awarded compensation under the 1833 Abolition Act (there was a Slave Compensation Commission) which shows that it was not just MP’s or the well-known merchant families but regular business folk too who profited from the enslavement of Africans. Read more…
18 March 2013 by Richard
I was in London recently for a series of meetings. I usually have a few hours to kill before getting the train back so I often have a bit of a busman’s holiday, checking out a new exhibition or snooping around some gallery. I always seem to end up frantically rushing back to Euston in rush hour too. This trip was no different and although I like to think I’m an experienced visitor to the capital at one stage I had to ask a postman, a shop assistant in Liberty’s, and two bobbies where the nearest tube station was.
22 February 2013 by Richard
First of all I would like to wish members of the global Guyanese family a Happy Republic Day for tomorrow. On 23 February 1970 the Forbes Burnham led government proclaimed Guyana, The Co-operative Republic of Guyana and ended Guyana’s constitutional tie to Britain. Guyana though remains a member of the Commonwealth.
The birth of Guyana as a republic is now also closely associated with the annual Mashramani festival or ‘Mash day’, derived from the Amerindian language which according to the Guyanese Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport means ‘the celebration of a job well done’. The festival has a carnival atmosphere and is one of the most spectacular annual celebrations in Guyana. Read more…
14 February 2013 by Richard
Conrad’s classic Heart of Darkness is a powerful indictment of imperialism at its height which swept across Africa and in particular the repressive and brutal reign of the Belgians in the Congo, which had become the fiefdom of King Leopold II. The book centres on Marlow, a sailor who works for a Belgian ivory trading company, and encounters widespread brutality by the company. At the end of the book Conrad’s narrator encounters Kurtz (Brando in Apocalypse Now), who had worked for the company but turned himself into a demigod and who was guilty of carrying out horrifying atrocities. Read more…
31 January 2013 by Richard
Unfortunately we had to cancel the planned event with the artist Nicola Green at the Walker Art Gallery on Friday 18th due to the bad weather. However, before the venues closed I was able to give Nicola and her friends and family a tour of the International Slavery Museum. Amongst the group was the singer Beverley Knight who had a very thought provoking visit and David Lammy MP – long time supporter of the International Slavery Museum. It’s a lot to take in for some people on their initial visit, and they might experience a number of emotions, so I am sure that many of the group will come back in the future. Read more…
15 January 2013 by Richard
Happy New Year to regular and new followers of my blog. New Years resolutions are often doomed before they even start and as a pragmatist I don’t expect the world to change at the chimes of Big Ben. That said it would be a positive start to 2013 if people with dispositions towards intolerance educate themselves about “others” and denounce their particular prejudice, racism, sexism, ageism, their homophobia or hostility towards disabled people – to name just a few – rather than make a resolution to eat less cake or exercise more. Regardless, those of us who abhor such behaviour should not be downhearted, stay resolute and when we can, question, challenge and inform. Read more…
6 December 2012 by Richard
With International Human Rights Day approaching on 10 December I wanted to highlight often forgotten human rights activists, in this case Eleanor Roosevelt, Eleanor Rathbone and Ronald Kidd.
Roosevelt, a former U.S. First Lady, chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, one of the most important and significant documents of modern times. Some of the articles are more known than others, for instance, Article 1 declares “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights whereas Article 4 states No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” However, of equal importance are such articles as Nos. 16 which states that “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses”. Human rights abuses which the Declaration has striven to fight are still taking place today, not just in other countries, but the UK, your own town, your own street. Young women in some communities can’t marry who they want and can suffer domestic violence as a result. People of all ages and nationalities are held in domestic servitude, often mistreated by professionals and not everyone is born free with their rights in place. I could go on.
15 November 2012 by Richard
Regardless of the fact that President Obama’s recent election victory brought about a tangible sigh of relief in many parts of the world, these next few years will be a tough test for him and his administration. For those of you interested in Obama, from next January our sister venue the Walker Art Gallery hosts the exhibition In 7 Days by the artist Nicola Green, who between August 2008 and January 2009 had the opportunity to follow Barack Obama on his Presidential campaign. One of the images ‘Change’ has the then Senator Obama in a John Wayne-esque pose. The similarities end there though; it could be said that Wayne had rather more conservative political values.
29 October 2012 by Richard
Surely I’m not the only one to have a feeling of déjà vu? In January of this year I wrote a blog about allegations of racist abuse in football which had overshadowed various anti-racism campaigns and initiatives such as Kick It Out. Well here we are again, same old, same old. Is it too much to ask that those people in the higher echelons of English and European football finally take firm and decisive action around blatant racism on the terraces and on the pitch?
16 August 2012 by Richard
I could not miss the opportunity of an Olympic themed blog. I enjoyed these past few weeks (I now know about ippon and not to pop out of the room before the 50m freestyle) and am looking forward to the Paralympics. That being said, I am not sure whether the Olympics warranted the lead news item most evenings. The world does not put everything on hold for such events.
On several occasions the discussion focused on the achievements of Black athletes, in particular sprinters form the Caribbean and the US. A recent programme which featured Olympian Michael Johnson called Survival of the Fastest looked at whether African American and Caribbean athletes are successful as a result of a legacy of transatlantic slavery. Johnson met sport and science experts and leading historians to examine the link between transatlantic slavery, genetics and plantation ‘breeding programmes’. Did the physical stature of many enslaved Africans forced to carry out backbreaking and deadly physical labour have a role to play in altering the genomes of their descendants? Read more…