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Transatlantic slavery and its legacies

"Although the Black community has contributed as much as any group to Liverpool life over the centuries, its legacy has been almost totally neglected in the history books."
Laurence Westgaph, historian

The role of Black people in shaping Liverpool goes back to the period of transatlantic slavery. Forced migration brought immense wealth to Liverpool, helping to transform a small fishing port into a city known throughout the world as 'the second city of the Empire'. There is much more to discover about Black people who settled in Liverpool, particularly in the 18th century and earlier. Evidence of their lives is found in Parish records. Many lived close to the docks in Liverpool 1, but when priced out of the area, moved to Toxteth (often called Liverpool 8).

In the 19th century, as well as small numbers of enslaved Africans, often domestic servants, there were Black soldiers, seaman, scholars and skilled workers in Liverpool.

The incredible fortunes generated by exploiting enslaved Africans in the Americas are still visible in the built environment of Liverpool and the North West region. As well as physical reminders, we aim to explore the far-reaching and complex legacies of slavery, and the impact that it continues to have in Britain today.

At National Museums Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum's and Merseyside Maritime Museum’s collections tell the story of transatlantic slavery, and its legacies. Exhibitions such as Black Salt show a hidden history, in this case the story of Britain's Black seafarers. Objects from the Museum of Liverpool’s collection further explore the lives of the local Black community.

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Liverpool's slavery map

Legacies of the slave trade remain highly visible in Liverpool. Explore this map to discover the obvious and less well-known remnants of the slave trade.

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I was Born to Be Free – poem by Kenneth Samuels

The Museum is looking ahead to Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August. A crucial event in the fight to end the European transatlantic slave trade happened on this date in 1791, when there was an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti).

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