The day starts with an interfaith church service at Liverpool’s parish church of St Nicholas on the city’s waterfront.
Events at Otterspool begin at 12 noon. There is a cultural food and exhibition marquee with traditional African and Caribbean food plus lots of children’s activities ranging from playing musical instruments to mask-making.
There is a chance to explore items linked to the transatlantic slave trade and an opportunity to learn more about the exciting new International Slavery Museum at Merseyside Maritime Museum opening on Slavery Remembrance Day 2007.
At 1300 hours Chief Angus Chukuemeka leads a libation joined by civic and community leaders from the Liverpool area. This is a traditional African ceremony involving the pouring of liquid while paying homage to ancestors.
Following the libation, visitors move into the main marquee at 1330 hours for an afternoon of exciting and entertaining music and drama performances plus children’s activities. Performers include the River Niger Orchestra, Liverpool Community Spirit, rappers Yaw and Kofi and a community choir.
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. UNESCO chose this date as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the principal agents of their own liberation.
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.
Claire Duffy, head of community partnerships at National Museums Liverpool, says: “This is an important time as we approach the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery in Britain next year. Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations this year set the scene for the opening of the International Slavery Museum on 23 August 2007.”
Dorothy Kuya, a member of the Liverpool Slavery Remembrance Initiative steering group, says: “Slavery Remembrance Day is an opportunity for all members of the community to remember and reflect on the legacy of the slave trade. It helps us all understand how the past influences the way we lead our lives now and in the future.”
The new International Slavery Museum will replace the groundbreaking Transatlantic Slavery Gallery in the Merseyside Maritime Museum, opened by Dr Maya Angelou in 1994.
The International Slavery Museum opens in two phases – the first in 2007 marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the British Slave Trade and the second in 2010.
Liverpool was Europe’s capital of the slave trade in the late 18th Century and grew rich on the profits of trading in enslaved people. It is therefore fitting that this subject should be marked and explored in the city.
Phase One of the new museum development features dynamic and thought-provoking displays about the story of the transatlantic slave trade. Crucially, it focuses on the legacy of transatlantic slavery while addressing such issues as freedom, identity, human rights, reparations, racial discrimination and cultural change.
Phase Two sees the development of a new visitor-focused resource with an events programme of performance, public lectures and debate. The museum will have a research focus and accommodation for visiting scholars to work and access National Museums Liverpool’s archive collections.