Slavery Remembrance Day is commemorated this Thursday 23 August 2007 with exciting free events in the city centre and at Otterspool promenade, south Liverpool.

The new International Slavery Museum (ISM) opens at the Albert Dock, Liverpool, on Slavery Remembrance Day 23 August 2007. There will be a 0930 hours media call at ISM – details to follow in a separate press release.

Earlier in the week distinguished author Dr Molefi Asante gives a memorial lecture titled The Ideological Origins of Chattel Slavery at 1800 hours on Tuesday 21 August 2007 at Liverpool Town Hall. More details below.

A multi-faith act of reflection will be held at 1045 hours on Thursday 23 August 2007 at Our Lady and St Nicholas Church, Liverpool. More details below.

Slavery Remembrance Day is celebrated every year on 23 August with a series of free events. This year is especially important because 2007 is the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade.

On 23 August 1791, an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Santa Domingo (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic) began. This revolt was crucial in the fight against slavery.

The Slavery Remembrance Day Otterspool events start at 12 noon on Thursday 23 August 2007 with activities suitable for families and children including traditional African and Caribbean food.

At 1300 hours Chief Angus Chukuemeka and community leaders take part in a traditional African libation ceremony when liquid is scattered on the river from the promenade.

Between 1330 and 1500 hours there are music and drama performances in the marquee showcasing black culture and heritage. Poet Levi Tafari opens and closes the event with two specially-commissioned poems A Call to Remember and A Call to Act.

The River Niger Orchestra perform in the first section of the event telling the story of the transatlantic slave trade before abolition in 1807.
Sense of Sound, a choir, sing gospel songs and spirituals taking us through the history of slavery in the American plantations beyond 1807. Rapper Young Kof performs songs focussing on the contemporary resonances of slavery, concluding with a specially-written Liverpool Legacy Rap. Artistic direction and event co-ordination support provided by Fuse: New Theatre for Young People.

Dr Molefi Asante is a professor in the Department of African-American Studies at Temple University, Philadelphia. He is the distinguished author of 61 books, most recently The History of Africa. Dr Asante examines the fundamental sources of chattel slavery in the imagination of the English-speaking world. Admitting that the economic incentive was a powerful motive for the rise and growth of the enslavement of African people, he argues that the special use of the concept of “chattel” applied to Africans emerged out of the exigencies of the enslavers’ confrontation with Christian ethics. How was it possible for one person to hold another person in bondage? By discussing the history of the term “chattel” and explaining its relationship to the emerging capitalist economies of Europe and America, Dr Asante situates the ideological foundation of chattel slavery not in English common law, as might be expected, but in the English colonists’ interpretation of difference.

1045 hours Thursday 23 August, Our Lady and St Nicholas’s Church, Liverpool: Multi-faith Act of Reflection remembering the victims of the transatlantic slave trade and affirming commitment to human rights and social justice for all. Event co-ordination support provided by Fuse: New Theatre for Young People.

You are invited to send a reporter and photographer to cover all these events.

The International Slavery Museum, within Merseyside Maritime Museum, opens on 23 August, Slavery Remembrance Day 2007. Designated by UNESCO, the date was chosen as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation. Liverpool, central to the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century, is a fitting location in which to commemorate the anniversary of this important landmark.

The galleries at the International Slavery Museum feature new dynamic and thought-provoking displays about the story of the transatlantic slave trade. It includes new displays about the legacy of transatlantic slavery and addresses issues such as freedom, identity, human rights, reparations, racial discrimination and cultural change.

The museum also seeks to address ignorance and misunderstanding by looking at the deep and permanent impact of slavery and the slave trade on Africa, South America, the USA, the Caribbean and western Europe.

A second phase of the project, due to open in 2010, will include the development of a new visitor-focused education centre with an events programme of performance, public lectures and debate using the newly-acquired Dock Traffic Office. A research institute based in the museum is being developed in partnership with the University of Liverpool.

Liverpool has been at the forefront of the commemorations since Slavery Remembrance Day started in 1999. Liverpool Slavery Remembrance Initiative is a partnership between National Museums Liverpool, individuals from the city’s black community, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool Culture Company and The Mersey Partnership.

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Name: Stephen Guy
Phone: 0151 478 4612