Guests from both side of the Atlantic filled St Margaret’s Church to attend the memorial services to the man considered to be Black Briton’s political founding father.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Senatmu, the Dean and Cannon of Westminster Rev Robert Wright, Rev. Dr Joel Edwards, international director at MICA and Dr David Muir of the Evangelical Alliance and senior politician’s were among those who attended this event in honour of a man who dedicated his life to fighting for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
A committed Christian, this memorial service was held exactly 250 years to day that Equiano was baptised at St Margaret’s on the 9th February 1759.
This historic evening was the culmination of years of work by the Equiano Society who have been instrumental in securing this memorial.
‘This is the fulfillment of all the hard work that has had to go into this over the last five years. Equiano’s plaque is the only thing of its kind on the site, and there is no other thing about black people represented there at all. Arthur Torrington, Co-founder and Secretary of The Equiano Society and Windrush Foundation said.
Like millions of other’s Equiano was stolen from African and traded from one owner to another.
He managed to buy his freedom and in 1789 published his autobiography entitled, ‘The interesting Narrative of the Life of Oluadah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa.The African’, which depicted the horrors of slavery. An immediate best seller, this book proved to be a seminal work in influencing British legislators in the introduction of the 1807 Slave Trade Act.
This book is now considered to be the most important writing in the black literary tradition in the entire canon of black literature.
Equiano’s memorial plaque was created by the architectural stone carver and letter Cutter, Margaret Bennett-Male.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Senatmu said: ‘it is wonderful to have a permanent commemoration in this church. This speaks of the spirit of Equiano and power that inspired him to stand up and not only be counted but to advocate for millions of others who were not able to speak out against injustices for themselves – it is an inspiration to have this plaque here.’
‘The history of the church goes back to medieval times. It’s an important site and an important building as it is just opposite parliament and MPs an Peers regularly use it and thousands of people visit that church all the time and look at the various plagues and what they represent.
Now Equiano is now among those people who stand out as a contributor to British History. There is a sense of fulfillment about this. Ten or 15 years ago a thing like this would not have happened,’ Arthur Torrington, Co-founder and Secretary of The Equiano Society and Windrush Foundation said.