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Posts tagged with 'slavery'

Consciousness and the Rainbow Atlantic

24 May 2012 by Richard

photograph of a peaceful ocean

© FreeImages.co.uk


Like many of you I am pleased that the people of Liverpool in the recent Mayoral elections gave a clear message to those of the far-right persuasion that their brand of politics was not wanted. Less than 2% of the 100,000 plus people who went to the polling stations voted for such candidates.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of work to do at many levels, to counter the rise of extreme nationalistic and far-right ideologies across Europe. Their vague and utopian ideas of national identity, including Britishness (which rarely includes BME individuals whether or not they were born in Britain…like me) has no factual basis. Read more…

King Cotton

7 December 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Drawing of John Bull worshipping cotton whilst kneeling on a slave

King Cotton postcard, published New York, 1861, on loan from Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester.

The Merseyside Maritime Museum is currently marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War with an exhibition outside the Maritime Archives & Library on the second floor and a trail pointing out relevant collections throughout the museum.  This image shows part of an envelope that we have borrowed from the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester to add to the exhibition.  It was printed in New York and was designed to send a powerful message regarding the economic and moral position of England (represented by John Bull).  England claimed to be powerful and free, but the economic success of places like Manchester was reliant on access to cotton produced by slave labour.  John Bull is kneeling on a slave while worshipping King Cotton. Read more…

Maritime Tales – Two Portraits

8 July 2011 by Stephen

Painting of man

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

I like the saying You Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover but nevertheless feel you can read a lot into a person’s demeanour if not their physical features.

I spent 30 years in the criminal and civil courts as a news reporter filling notebook after notebook with Pitman’s shorthand. During lulls in the proceedings I could study the accused closely.

Some had committed horrific crimes and their faces may have revealed their character but not their past. Read more…

Free events exploring slavery past and present

10 February 2011 by Sam

This Saturday you can make a stand for love at the International Slavery Museum, at a free workshop making Valentines’ Day cards with a difference. Our cards are designed to support the anti-trafficking campaign and raise awareness about modern day slavery.

Everyone deserves to be treated as special someone – not as a commodity to be brought and sold. So make a Valentines’ Day card with an anti-trafficking message to send to someone, to support the Stop the Traffik campaign. Read more…

Foundations for the future

25 January 2011 by Richard

mechanical digger digging foundations

A Happy New Year to everyone and as someone with Chinese ancestry it is fitting to wish you all a fruitful Year of the Rabbit. Liverpool has a long established and rich Chinese community, one that adds to the diverse fabric of the city. There has been a Chinese community since the mid-nineteenth century which originally settled around the docks but in more recent times settled in and around Berry and Duke Street. Interestingly Liverpool’s Chinatown has the largest Chinese arch in Europe and indeed outside of China. The New Year celebrations in Liverpool are fantastic and well worth attending.

The museum sector has a number of challenges in 2011 but I believe that the International Slavery Museum will continue to have a strong offer and build on the success of 2010. A year which saw us pass the 1 millionth visitor mark; launch the new International Slavery Museum book Transatlantic Slavery: An introduction; host a series of successful exhibitions; develop our contemporary slavery collection and open our new Campaign Zone.

For many years there has been the debate within the sector as to whether museums should be places of neutrality, islands of objectivity in an often subjective world. I wrote about this in a recent article. Those of us involved in the International Slavery Museum disagree and feel that museums are by their very nature active agents of social change and should actively seek to do so. Janet Marstine in ‘New Museum Theory and Practice’ (2006) has echoed similar sentiments;
Read more…

Fela – The Black President

12 January 2011 by Lisa

FELA! is a new musical that is taking the world by storm! Here is our Education Manager, Vikky Evans-Hubbard, from the International Slavery Museum to tell us more about it…

While in London recently I was lucky enough to see the London Production of FELA! at the Royal National Theatre. The musical, produced by Jay-Z and Will and Jada Smith, tells the story of Afrobeat pioneer and political activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Born into a middle class Nigerian family in 1938,  a cousin of writer Wole Soyinka, who was later to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, his mother was a well renowned political activist in the anti-colonial movement, and he was exposed to political ideas at an early age.
His belief that art should be political meant that inevitably his music carried strong messages. His influences included the Black Power Movement, discovered while in the United States, this led him to change his middle name to Anikulapo (meaning “he who carries death in his pouch”), stating that his original middle name of Ransome was a slave name.
Fela’s music, ‘Afrobeat’ is a fusion of Yoruba rhythms, Highlife, Jazz, Funk, chanted vocals and call and response. It became hugely popular in Nigeria and across the continent in general. He sang in pidgin English, so that his music could be enjoyed and understood by individuals all over Africa where the local languages spoken are many and diverse.Music terminals with headphones in the slavery museumThe music desk in the Legacy gallery at the International Slavery Museum. Read more…

Stop the Traffik ACT Northern Forum

21 December 2010 by Sam

The International Slavery Museum’s role as an active, campaigning museum has led to a number of initiatives, including the creation of a Campaign zone as well as exhibitions such as Home Alone and Trafficked. Dave Cookson from the Liverpool ACT Group reports on another recent event at the museum:

“The International Slavery Museum was host to the first ever Northern Forum for Active Communities against Trafficking groups (ACTs) on 23 October this year. The Liverpool ACT group were joined by members of groups from Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and Manchester in addition to representatives from the STOP THE TRAFFIK organisation based in London.

hand held up, in a request to stop


The event was held in the Anthony Walker Education Centre where members were greeted with complimentary fair trade chocolate bars and asked to participate in an appeal to Nick Clegg regarding human trafficking.

The forum was used as an opportunity for STOP THE TRAFFIK volunteers to inform each other of what their groups had been doing, in what proved to be a fruitful exercise as attendees left with new ideas about how to fight the problem of trafficking. Read more…

An act of defiance

1 December 2010 by David

Today marks 55 years since Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress, defied the segregation laws of the southern states of the USA by refusing to give up her seat on the bus for a white man, and in doing so became a figurehead for the Civil Rights movement.

As the bus she was travelling on in Montgomery, Alabama, became more crowded, the bus driver decided to move the ‘colored’ sign which divided the passengers by race further back the bus, and demanded that Parks also move back to allow white passengers to sit down — Parks’ refusal and subsequent arrest led to a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system, organised by the then-unknown Reverend Martin Luther King. Though Parks was not the first to defy segregation laws in this way, her protest was the catalyst for mass action which led ultimately to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and an end to segregation.

Parks’ story is just one of the inspirational stories in the history of the Civil Rights movement: find out more in the Legacy gallery of the International Slavery Museum. Read more…

Alice’s voyage

12 November 2010 by Sam

detail of an old document

Curator of maritime archives Sarah Starkey explains why this document is helping to build up a picture of the history of the slave trade and the ships involved with it:

“This image is a detail from a recent offer to the Maritime Archives and Library. It is part of the ship’s articles for the ship ‘Alice’, on a voyage from Liverpool to Africa and the West Indies in 1760, which indicates a slave trading voyage

The document is missing the list of crew signatures which would usually be attached. The articles were their contract for the voyage and they signed to agree to the conditions of service listed, such as food provided, when wages would be paid and what share of the profits would be allocated.

The articles also state that the Alice carries a Letter of Marque, this means that the ship was a privateer (a pirate with a licence from the government) and could capture merchant vessels from other nations and their valuable cargos. This could be a very profitable enterprise. Read more…

Win a copy of our new Transatlantic Slavery book

29 September 2010 by David

Book cover

Transatlantic Slavery: An Introduction

Our new publication Transatlantic Slavery: An Introduction has hit the shelves. 

The book draws on the wealth of material held by the International Slavery Museum and tells of the 400-year period in which at least 12 million Africans were taken into slavery in the largest forced migration in human history. With a foreword by Reverend Jesse Jackson it’s an excellent introduction to the subject.

With Black History Month just around the corner, it’s a fitting time for the launch of the book which examines an important chapter in Black history. Don’t forget to check our special programme of free events throughout October. Read more…

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