Posts by Richard
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…
2 September 2013 by Richard
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.
25 July 2013 by Richard
Well in the words of the great Barrett Strong “Money (That’s What I Want)”*. Recently there has been some debate around the Bank of England’s plans to replace Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill in 2016 as the face on our £5 notes. However, it has also been announced that Jane Austen will be the new face of the £10 note in 2017, an attempt at counterbalancing the lack of women. People are right to scrutinize the individuals who are being considered-and that have appeared on previous notes-which clearly shows a lack of diversity, not becoming of a modern society. Now it is positive that Austen will indeed be seen on future currency but there will still be a lack of Black and Asian and other ethnically diverse faces. Tokenism some may shout, maybe, but visibility and presence are often the first steps in people understanding how British society has “no singular ‘island story.’” Read more…
14 June 2013 by Richard
It has been a varied month since my last blog. It was a pleasure welcoming Garvin Nicholas, the High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago at the end of May for a tour of the International Slavery Museum (ISM). My colleague James Hernandez came along to meet the delegation, a nice dimension was that he has Trinidadian roots. As part of the tour we went into the Anthony Walker Education Centre which among other things has a display of Caribbean flags, except, quelle surprise, Trinidad and Tobago. The High Commissioner kindly offered to send the Museum a flag for our collection. He was very impressed with the Museum, especially the inclusion on our Black Achievers Wall of a number of Trinidadians & Tobagonians such as Lord Learie Constantine, Dr Roi Kwabena and CLR James. Read more…
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…