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Do you know why this porthole is important?

22 August 2018 by Sarah

We walk over and through some sites of historical significance on the Walk of Remembrance, including this porthole over the Old Dock.

Are you joining us on the Walk of Remembrance this year? Every year thousands of people come together with us to make a special journey through Liverpool city centre.

People from all walks of life join the procession of reflection and take part in a public Libation service at the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool to mark International Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August – the date of the first successful revolution of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (Modern Haiti) in 1791. This uprising led to the founding of an independent free country and inspired the fight for abolition across the globe.

We walk over and through some sites of historical significance on our Walk. Here, our Visitor Host, Daniel Wright, talks about the porthole in Liverpool One:

As I attend the walk of remembrance on 23rd of August (I hope to see you there! ) I will be very aware that the majority of people making the walk through the city centre may not know the significance of what is below their feet when they walk past the little porthole next to John Lewis.

On this journey toward Liverpool’s waterfront, people will pass the small porthole outside the store. It actually provides the viewer with a glimpse of the Old Dock, the world’s first commercial, enclosed wet dock.

Liverpool’s Old Dock was designed by 18th century civil engineer Thomas Steers. The importance of this dock is not to be underestimated. When it opened in 1715, due to its revolutionary gate system it was the most efficient dock on the planet. A ship could load or unload its cargo within a day and a half and be ready to go back out to sea. This was a vast improvement to the usual two week turn over period at the time. As a result commercial trade increased quickly and Liverpool became a major world trading port.

The new efficient dock system strengthened Liverpool’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This unfortunately meant that Liverpool became a main port within the ‘Transatlantic Trade Triangle’. This horrendous triangle of trade was the foundation to the town’s prosperity and development.

Slaver Ships would leave Liverpool and journey to  West Africa where traders in enslaved Africans were responsible for Liverpool seizing over 50% of the British trade. From there, millions of Africans were enslaved and transported to the Americas in horrific conditions. On arrival, the enslaved Africans would be sold and forced to work on plantations.

Liverpool slaver ships would return months later, carrying expensive and highly sort after commodities. These included sugar, tobacco, cocoa, cotton, coffee and rum.

Legacies of Liverpool’s links with the transatlantic slave trade are still around today. Street names such as Gildart Street, Bold Street and even the famous Penny Lane are all named after Liverpool traders. A detailed list can be seen in the International Slavery Museum on the third floor of the Maritime Museum at the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool.

It’s quite poignant that our route toward Liverpool’s waterfront will echo the exact same route slaver ships followed centuries before…

If you would like to join the Walk of Remembrance, we are meeting at 11am on 23 August at the Church street bandstand (Liverpool City Centre). The Walk will finish at the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building, Royal Albert Dock, where we will hold a Libation, an ancient spiritual ceremony, at 12noon. Full details of this year’s Slavery Remembrance Day events.

A green resistance: plants and enslavement

10 August 2018 by Sarah

pale yellow flower

The design for this year’s Slavery Remembrance Day posters

Have you seen the new design for our Slavery Remembrance Day posters and leaflets this year?

They are all around the city centre and waterfront promoting Slavery Remembrance Day and the Unity Carnival.

A big, pale yellow flower sits in the middle of a black background.

Have you wondered why we have used this image? There are two reasons:

First, and for the first year ever, we have added a theme to the programme of celebration, commemoration and remembrance we hold annually for Slavery Remembrance Day. And that theme is ‘growth’. Many of our events will explore that idea this year.

This year’s design is related to growth, because the pale yellow flower on our new posters is actually the okra flower. We all know, and many of us will eat, the green vegetable – but maybe don’t recognise the flower.  Read more…

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 first 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.”  Read more…

Uncover the secrets of the Underground Railroad – with computers!

20 July 2017 by Sarah

This is a secret symbol or quilt code to communicate ‘safe house’. It will be included in the Underground Railroad computer game. Credit: Belvedere Academy History Club

How do you create a “choose-your-own-adventure” computer game about a hidden history that was conducted in secret, out of sight and under the cover of darkness? This task was explored by five remarkable students from Belvedere Academy as they created a series of scenarios, each with choices and consequences based upon the Underground Railroad, the code name for a network of secret routes, places and people that aided fugitives in the United States escape from Slave States to Free States.

The project will be showcased on 27 July and 23 August as part of the Museum’s 10th anniversary programme of free events and talks, including its Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations 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…

Photos from Slavery Remembrance Day 2016

21 October 2016 by Sarah

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum and Akala on the steps of the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr building.

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum and Akala on the steps of the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr building. Courtesy of Dave Jones Photography

Almost 9,000 of you visited the International Slavery Museum, part of National Museums Liverpool, in the week of Slavery Remembrance Day this year. Read more…

I was Born to Be Free – poem by Kenneth Samuels

17 August 2016 by Sarah

slavery-remembrance-day-logoThe Museum is looking ahead to Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August. A crucial event in the fight to end the European transatlantic slave trade happened on this date in 1791, when there was an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti). 

Thinking about this today, we are publishing a moving poem about slavery from Kenneth Samuels, a visitor to the Museum, who was actually born on 23 August – but 175 years after Haiti. Here is the poem with an introduction by Kenneth:

Read more…

A Black History of Britain?

21 August 2015 by Sarah

David Olusoga

David Olusoga

British-Nigerian historian, broadcaster and film-maker, David Olusoga is delivering the keynote lecture this evening at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, as part of a weekend of free events to commemorate Slavery Remembrance Day on Sunday 23 August.  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

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…



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