The abolition of the slave trade

A tremendous event: a commemoration of the bicentenary of the Act abolishing Britain’s transatlantic slave trade. It was put on by the Commission for Racial Equality in Westminster Hall in Parliament – where the debate that ended this abhorrent part of history took place.

There were speeches by Uzo Iwobi, a Commissioner from the Commission for Racial Equality, Baroness Amos, Leader of the House of Lords and Trevor Phillips, Chair of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights. The event was hosted by Floella Benjamin OBE (former presenter of Play School, but that’s only a small part of her many and varied activites). It also included actors from the Globe Theatre who enacted dramatised readings, a young poet, Louis Antwi, and two choirs.

What I liked about it was that the speeches were very hard hitting about the reality of what happened. It wasn’t about bitterness or recrimination – but about accepting the reality of what is our history and understanding the consequences – psychological, socio-economical and historical – for all of us living now in this country. It was very, very powerful.

0 thoughts on “The abolition of the slave trade

  1. Shouldn’t the title of your post be “The abolition of the British slave trade”?Slavery has been practiced for a long time by many people, and has been legal far more recently than 200 years ago.I don’t mind that we remember what happened in the British Empire, and remember how our ancestors abolished it. It is vital that we do. But in the interests of racial equality we should be careful not to only highlight white slave traders, and ignore all those of different races. We also shouldn’t concentrate on one particular case, and ignore the psychological, economic, and historical consequences of all the others. Shouldn’t we celebrate aniversaries of the closing of the Gulag or Laogai? Shouldn’t we remember the Barbary corsairs and the great slave markets of the Middle East? How about Mauritania?What people did 200 years ago has little moral bearing on us; what we are saying and doing about slavery going on today does.