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Slavery Remembrance Day 2017: 18 and counting

22 August 2017 by Richard

Gee Walker (centre, purple jacket) on the 2013 Walk of Remembrance

This year from the 22 – 23 August the International Slavery Museum will be leading on the city’s 18th Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations during our 10th anniversary. This has become a key date not only in the calendar of the Museum, but nationally, with people coming from around the UK to engage with a series of contemplative, commemorative and celebratory events. On Tuesday 22nd the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building will host the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, named in honour of a friend of the Museum, tireless anti-slavery campaigner and historian who sadly passed in 2013.

The keynote speaker at our annual event is someone who focuses on a historical theme, and possibly challenge often accepted narratives of history, in a constructive and inspiring way or someone who like the Museum campaigns against issues of social injustices. That is why this years speaker, Dr Gee Walker, founder of the Anthony Walker Foundation and mother to Anthony, a young Black man brutally murdered in a racist attack in 2005 is an ideal speaker. I know Gee personally and it is quite extraordinary that her heart is not filled with hate but hope. It is therefore an honour to act as a trustee of the Anthony Walker Foundation that aims to promote racial harmony through education, sport and the arts, promoting the celebration of diversity and personal integrity and the realisation of potential of all young people

I am looking forward to hearing Gee talk about Anthony and her work and her daughters Dominique and Stephanie who have been integral to the work of the Foundation and championing hate crime reporting in the city. Dominique once made one of the most moving statements I have heard in my role when she described the Anthony Walker Education Centre located within the Museum as “My brother’s room”. This showed how important our work is. Dominique and Stephanie will be part of a Q & A chaired by BBC Radio Merseyside Producer and Presenter Ngunan Adamu.

We have many free events over the two days but one of the most important is the libation ceremony which remembers and pays homage to the ancestors, many taken from their families, friends and homelands in Africa as part of the barbarous transatlantic slave trade that helped build many cities such as Liverpool. I hope you can join us.

Richard

See the full programme of all our Slavery Remembrance Day events here.

We are 10

18 August 2017 by Richard

International Slavery Museum 10th anniversary logologo

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.

International Slavery Museum’s ‘We Are One’ school logo

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.

Blog author, Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum (c) Dave Jones

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”.

Read about all our special 10th anniversary events here

Use Art as an Activist!

31 July 2017 by Stef

Front cover of Seleena Laverne Day’s ‘Brown Girl’ zine

As we come to the final weeks of Art of Solidarity, an exhibition of vibrant Cuban posters from the 1960s and 70s showing solidarity with African liberation movements including the opposition to South African Apartheid and Angola’s fight for independence, we will be taking inspiration from these revolutionary Cuban poster artists to offer visitors the opportunity to participate in events that aim to further explore the capacity of art forms to be a powerful tool of activism and a means to create dialogue.

“For the closing weekend of Art of Solidarity, we will be exploring activism through self- publishing, in an artist-led workshop delivered by Manchester based zine-maker Seleena Laverne Daye.

“A zine is a small circulation, self- published work, normally produced very cheaply using a photocopier and distributed through friends, fairs or by sale online. A zine can cover any topic from politics, popular culture, film, photography, history, food to perzines (personal zines), which focus on the individual experiences of the writer. Due to the lack of censorship within this medium, zines can also offer their authors an empowering platform to challenge established narratives and share their views with others, arguably forming an important record of social history that may explore viewpoints that are marginalised in mainstream media channels.

“Author of DIY publications ‘Poor Lass’ and ‘Brown Girl’, Seleena’s zines explore topics related to race, class and gender:

Growing up as a working class woman of colour, I aim, through my art and zines, to create a space for working class people and women of colour. To be able to tell and share their stories in their own voices, as they so often don’t get the chance to.” – Seleena Laverne Daye

“We are delighted to welcome Seleena to International Slavery Museum on Saturday 5th August to discuss the activism within her own zines and art, share some of her favourite zines and explain how to get involved in making and distributing DIY publications. Visitors will also have the chance to begin their own zine projects and make a badge to take away too!

Embroidered Black Lives Matter patch

Seleena’s zine-making workshop will take place on Saturday 5th August 1-3pm. Free but booking is advised due to limited places.

We will also be offering a tour of Art of Solidarity before this workshop at 12.30pm

If you are interested in finding out more about zine culture, our closest zine library is Salford Zine Library, a unique archive of self published materials housed at Nexus Art Café in Manchester, where visitors can find over 1500 publications to browse.

Look out for Wednesday’s special blog, from Seleena Laverne Daye , who is running the zine workshop!

 

 

Art of Activism – free cinema workshop

30 June 2017 by Stef

Join us on 15th July for Scalarama’s ‘I Want to be a Cinema’ workshop designed to support anyone interested in running their own film events

As we come to the final weeks of Art of Solidarity at the International Slavery Museum, an exhibition of vibrant Cuban posters from the 1960s and 70s showing solidarity with African liberation movements, we will be taking inspiration from these revolutionary Cuban poster artists to offer visitors the opportunity to participate in events that aim to further explore the capacity of art forms to be powerful tools of activism and a means to create dialogue.

Protest Through film

With DIY cinema projects such as volunteer- run Liverpool Small Cinema, Liverpool Radical Film Festival, exciting new film projects such as the Kinematic and Empty Spaces, as well as grassroots community ventures such as recent pop-up screenings with local filmmakers- including Sandi Hughes- as part of Granby Four Streets Market, it’s safe to say that our city already has an impressive legacy of DIY film programming. However, how does someone get started doing their own film screenings, licencing films or getting the word out about these types of events?

Sadly now closed, Liverpool Small Cinema was built and run entirely by volunteers.

Join us on 15th July to find out, as we welcome Scalarama for the ‘I Want to be a Cinema’ workshop, designed to support anyone interested in learning how to programme, license and promote their own film events, with advice and resources from experienced film programmers, including former programmers of Liverpool Small Cinema. Participants will also be offered the chance to be involved in Scalarama film festival this year by supporting a screening or hosting their own event in a community centre, local library, business, film club or even their garden!

With their manifesto that ‘Scalarama is by everyone, for everyone, everywhere, with DIY in its veins’, Scalarama aspire to fill UK cities with film throughout the month of September, providing an opportunity for anyone to get active in their communities, showcase the films that they would like to see and frame new discussion.

‘I Want to Be a Cinema’ workshop– 15 July 2017, 1-3pm, Anthony Walker Education Centre. We will be offering a tour of Art of Solidarity before this workshop at 12.30pm

International Slavery Museum will also be participating in Scalarama this year with a free screening of Selma in the Martin Luther King Jr building on 9th September 1pm, along with the chance to get hands on with a selection of civil rights objects from our Human Rights and Freedom Fights collection as well as the opportunity to view rare Black Panthers materials from our archive.

For the full programme of Scalarama events across all of our venues, click here.

Refugee Week: are we still a city of sanctuary?

16 June 2017 by Stef

MaMa choir performance, image from Migrant Artists Mutual Aid

Recent events have left many of us feeling that our community is increasingly vulnerable and divided. Refugee Week (19-25 June) provides us with an opportunity to create a more welcoming place to live, by coming together to celebrate people who have overcome incredible adversity.

To celebrate Refugee Week, the International Slavery Museum is hosting an exciting programme of free events and activities. Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (MaMa) will showcase the unifying force of music with a choir performance, that includes songs from member’s childhoods. MaMa Choir is a cross national network of women, mothers, migrants, artists, academics and activists who work together to campaign for justice in the migration system.

We are presenting short film screenings featuring Chasing Borders, a short film created by young people working with the BFI and Watershed Cinema. Chasing Borders is the heart-breaking story of a young person’s walk to safety. We are also screening Call Me Kuchu, a fascinating documentary highlighting the struggles of persecuted LGBT+ people in Uganda. The experiences of LGBT+ refugees can often be overlooked and many experience violent discrimination even once they have reached counties like the U.K.

For those who like to get hands on, get creative in our Faces of Change badge making workshop and help us create a refugee welcome display. This display will feature your pictures and stories of refugee experiences, including those from the Dunkirk refugee camp in France. The Dunkirk refugee camp was destroyed by a blaze this year along with the few remaining belongings and shelter that the occupants had left, though they continue to be supported by dedicated volunteer groups including Dunkirk Legal. With your help we can create a display to inspire museum visitors and to share our support with vulnerable people around the world.

Join in, learn and have fun to show that we are still a city of sanctuary.

For more information on all the Refugee Week events and activities taking place please click here.

A collector’s eye: OSPAAAL posters

14 February 2017 by Sarah

Day of Solidarity with the People of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, 1968. By Berta Abelenda Fernandez. Copyright: ‘Courtesy Lincoln Cushing and Docs Populi Archive’.

Mike Tyler is the collector and architect who owns the striking array of 32 Organisation in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia, and Latin America (OSPAAAL) posters currently on display in our Art of Solidarity exhibition. We asked Mike what he looks for when adding to the collection:

“The bulk of my collection dates from OSPAAAL’s founding in 1966 to the mid 70s, which is referred to as the ‘Golden Period’ of Cuban poster art. It is no coincidence this was a time of great political and social unrest with the civil rights movement, Vietnam War, Watergate scandal and struggles against apartheid all providing fuel to creative fire.

Many collectors are interested in the politics whilst some have an affinity with Cuba. For me, the appeal is their artistic merit, which has long been revered in the world of both propaganda art and graphic design. In terms of desirability, there is a big collectors market for civil rights and Black power material so these posters command the highest demand. Posters featuring Che, Nixon or the more well know conflicts such as the Vietnam War have a broader appeal. Then you have the more renowned artists such as Alfredo Rostgaard, Rene Menderos, Jesus Forjans & Faustino Perez who created some of the most iconic posters.

Day of Solidarity with the Congo, 1972 by Alfrédo Juan González Rostgaard. Copyright: ‘Courtesy Lincoln Cushing and Docs Populi Archive’.

In terms of the actual posters, given they are paper and were designed to put up on walls, that means stains, tears, holes etc are to be expected. Considering their age, the fact they even exist is impressive but for the serious collectors condition is important.  Provided they aren’t too bad, I don’t mind a few scars as they show they have been used as intended. The posters were issued folded within Tricontinental magazine so for me fold-lines are a good thing as it implies they are originals rather than later print runs.

I also like to know a little about the person who owned the posters before me. To date I’ve dealt with musicians, activists, curators, journalists, TV presenters, antique book dealers and even the artists themselves. It all adds to their story.”

Don’t miss our series of free events planned throughout the Art of Solidarity exhibition.

Mike Tyler- Why I started collecting solidarity posters

25 January 2017 by Sarah

Tricontinental Conference – 3rd Anniversary, 1969 by Alfredo Juan Gonzalez Rostgaard. Copyright: Courtesy Lincoln Cushing and Docs Populi Archive.

Mike Tyler is the architect and collector who owns the fantastic array of 32 posters currently on display in our Art of Solidarity exhibition. We asked Mike how and why he started collecting these Cuban posters, designed to support freedom movements around the world:    

“I’m often asked why I started collecting Cuban posters and the truth is, it kind of just happened. As a visual person I’m drawn to design, graphics, photography, street art etc, so when I first stumbled across a batch of these posters, I could see they were something special.  Read more…

Curator’s view: Art of Solidarity

13 January 2017 by Sarah

Day of Solidarity with the People of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, 1968. By Berta Abelenda Fernandez. Copyright: ‘Courtesy Lincoln Cushing and Docs Populi Archive’.

Today we are pleased to open our new exhibition at the International Slavery Museum, ‘Art of Solidarity: Cuban posters for African liberation 1967 – 1989’. We asked curator Stephen Carl-Lokko to tell us what to expect:  Read more…

Hot off the Press: Black Panther Newspapers arrive at the International Slavery Museum

31 October 2016 by Sarah

One of the newspaper issues.

One of the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service newspaper issues. Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool

October is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party and Black History Month in the UK. So, what better time to announce our acquisition of twenty one copies of the ‘Black Panther Intercommunal News Service’ than today?  Read more…

Spotlight on: Slavery Remembrance Day

27 October 2016 by Sarah

The Libation ceremony

The Libation ceremony

In today’s blog we are taking a special look at Slavery Remembrance Day, which falls on 23 August.

The date is chosen by UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – to commemorate a significant uprising of enslaved African men and women on the island of Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) in 1791. This was instrumental to the downfall of the transatlantic slave trade. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.