Posted on Wednesday 1st August 2018
Gina Belafonte, daughter of Harry Belafonte, as guest speaker
National Museums Liverpool is proud to announce the 2018 speaker for its Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, a keynote event during the two days of celebration, commemoration and remembrance it holds annually for Slavery Remembrance Day.
The Lecture will this year be delivered by Gina Belafonte, daughter of the legendary Harry Belafonte – the American singer, songwriter, actor and a social activist among Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s confidantes.
Gina is an artist and activist who has worked with her father on multiple productions. She is currently the co-director of Sankofa.org, a social justice organization founded by Harry Belafonte that educates, motivates, and activates artists and allies in service of grassroots movements and equitable change. It enlists the support of today's most celebrated artists and influencers in collaboration with grassroots partners, to elevate the voices of those who find themselves disenfranchised from their communities to promote peace and equity.
Dr Richard Benjamin said:
“It is a pleasure to confirm Gina Belafonte as this year’s keynote speaker for the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture. Her father, Harry Belafonte, singer, actor, civil rights activist, friend and confidant to Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., not only attended the Museum’s opening in 2007 but is an honorary patron. This propelled the Museum onto the world stage. Now we have the honour of welcoming Gina Belafonte, producer, actor, activist, and Co-Director of Sankora.org – like the Museum – a social justice organisation – to Liverpool. To have Gina speak at this prestigious event not only also allows us to develop closer links with Sankofa.org, who work with both grassroots and globally known artists to champion the disenfranchised, but allows Liverpool, a city known for its global artistic influences, to welcome back a member of the Belafonte family.”
Gina Belafonte said:
“I am deeply honored to be asked to speak at the International Slavery Museum where my father was present for its inauguration.
“We will forever find desperate communities that need our support and services, and I believe that until we all as a global community have a real conversation about the oppression and violence against communities of color and the poor, we will never hold ourselves accountable.”
The Lecture is free but booking is essential. You can reserve your tickets from 10.00am GMT on Friday 3 August from Eventbrite: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ginabelafonte
UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – chose the 23 August as Slavery Remembrance Day because it commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) in 1791. The day pays homage to the many lives lost as a result of the transatlantic slave trade, and it also celebrates the survival and resilience of African and Caribbean people and their cultures.
Slavery Remembrance Day has been marked on 23 August in Liverpool since 1999 and this is the city’s 19th year of celebration, commemoration and remembrance. Liverpool was the European capital of the transatlantic slave trade, responsible for half of Britain’s trade. More than 5,000 slaver ship voyages were made from the city. The ships set sail from Liverpool with goods and franchise, which were exchanged for enslaved men, women and children on the west coast of Africa who were then taken across the Atlantic in a horrific journey known as ‘the Middle Passage’. Through these exchanges, ships departing Liverpool would go on to carry an estimated 1.5 million enslaved Africans into slavery.
Slavery Remembrance Day events are organised by National Museums Liverpool in partnership with Liverpool City Council.
The International Slavery Museum highlights the international importance of enslavement and slavery, both in a historic and modern context. Working in partnership with other organisations with a focus on freedom and enslavement, the Museum also provides opportunities for greater awareness and understanding of the legacies of slavery today.
Our Slavery Remembrance Day events include:
- 22 August
- Unity Carnival
12-3pm, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr building
Celebrate the strength of the human spirit. Our family-friendly Unity Carnival activities include African and Caribbean Street food, African market stalls, flag-making, face painting, screen printing, and lots more.
- Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture
Doors 5pm, Lecture 5.30pm. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr building
Delivered by Gina Belafonte, daughter of the legendary Harry Belafonte. Gina is an artist and activist who has worked with her father on multiple productions. She is currently the co-director of Sankofa.org, a social justice organization founded by Harry Belafonte that educates, motivates, and activates artists and allies in service of grassroots movements and equitable change.
- 23 August
- Walk of Remembrance11am, city centre (meet at Church street bandstand)
Remember ancestors and the individuals who, deprived of their liberty, enabled the port of Liverpool to thrive by joining the Walk of Remembrance through the City Centre on Slavery Remembrance Day. The route takes in Liverpool One and passes the site of the historic Old Dock where slaver ships would once have moored and been repaired.
- Libation 12pm, outside Merseyside Maritime MuseumA public Libation is an ancient spiritual ceremony, which involves an offering to commemorate and pay tribute to those affected by slavery.
For further details on our lecture and all other Slavery Remembrance Day events, please visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/srd #srdliverpool #celebrate #commemorate #remember
Notes to Editors
Slavery Remembrance Day
Slavery Remembrance Day has taken place annually in Liverpool on 23 August since 1999. August 23 is a significant date as it commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) in 1791. Slavery Remembrance Day is organised by National Museums Liverpool in partnership with
Liverpool City Council. For the last 17 years people have converged on the Albert Dock to remember those affected by slavery during a traditional Libation ceremony. The Walk of Remembrance has been taking place in Liverpool since 2011.
Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture
The Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture is named after a woman described as ‘Liverpool’s greatest fighter against racism’, Dorothy Kuya.
Dorothy Kuya, 80, passed away in 2013. Born in Liverpool 8, Dorothy had an impact far beyond Merseyside becoming one of the country’s leading figures in combating inequality.
Dorothy Kuya was Liverpool’s first Community Relations Officer and became Head of Race Equality for Haringey Council before moving back to Merseyside in 1994. She was part of Granby Residents Association and campaigned against the demolition of homes in the area.
Dorothy was also instrumental in helping set up the International Slavery Museum which opened in 2007 and Slavery Remembrance Day which was first marked in the city in 1999.
Memorial Lectures in recent years have been delivered by civil rights campaigner Mr Martin Luther King III, renowned activist and scholar Dr Maulana Karenga, civil rights campaigner Diane Nash and Zimbabwe’s first Black cricketer Henry Olonga.
Liverpool and the slave trade
Liverpool became the major port for the transatlantic slave trade. Liverpool ships were involved in forcibly transporting as many as 1.5 million enslaved Africans across the Atlantic from 1699 until the British Parliament passed the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807. As a result, much of the city’s wealth in the 18th and 19th centuries came from the profits made by the enslavement of Africans which cemented the foundations for the port’s future growth. In 1999 Liverpool City Council passed a formal motion apologising for the city’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and the enslavement of Africans.
International Slavery Museum
The International Slavery Museum opened in August 2007. It is situated on the third floor of the Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool. It is the only national museum in the world to cover the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies as well as contemporary forms of slavery and enslavement. It is also an international hub for resources on human rights issues and campaigning.
National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract more than 3.3 million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery. National Museums Liverpool is regulated by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Museums and galleries regulated by DCMS are exempt charities under Schedule 3 of the Charities Act 2011. Registered Office: World Museum, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN.
Native New Yorker, Gina Belafonte has spent her life in the arenas of entertainment and activism where her professional work thrives today. As the youngest child of Julie and Harry Belafonte, whose impact in these fields is among the most influential and progressive in the world, Gina’s passions come as no surprise.
After many years working as an actress in NYC, with several off Broadway and touring companies like The National Shakespeare Company and The Mirror Reparatory Company, alongside such greats as Geraldine Page, F. Murray Abraham, Anne Jackson and Elisabeth Franz, a series of opportunities to work in film and television moved her to Hollywood, where she appeared in guest-starring roles, and landed a television series, THE COMMISH. After two formative years on screen with the series, her passion for stage led her to act and produce theater in Los Angeles. Gina seized an opportunity to work with Paula Weinstein, Barry Levinson and Len Amato at Baltimore Spring Creek/Warner Brothers.
After becoming a mother, Gina followed her early childhood environment by immersing herself in activism. Collaborating with leading gang interventionist, Bo Taylor, Gina developed a deeper understanding of gang culture by working in the California prison system, and co-founded a non-profit organization called The Gathering For Justice. This multi-cultural, multi-generational organization focuses on youth incarceration and the criminalization of poverty. She currently sits on the Board of the internationally acclaimed Actors Gang Theatre founded by Tim Robbins and 2nd Call, a community based organization designed to save lives by reducing violence and assisting in the personal development of high risk individuals, proven offenders, ex-felons, parolees and others whom society disregards. After dedicating over a decade to addressing gang intervention and incarceration, Gina became the lead producer on the internationally acclaimed HBO documentary film SING YOUR SONG, exploring the extraordinary life and legacy of Harry Belafonte that was selected as the opening film for the Sundance Film Festival in 2011, and bringing together two inspiring generations of art and activism.
Gina is now the Co-Director of Sankofa.org, a social justice organization founded by her father, that enlists the support of today's most celebrated artists and influential individuals in collaboration with grassroots partners to elevate the voices of the disenfranchised and promote peace, justice and equality.
Gina lives in LA and New York, working with diverse artists, activists and organizations worldwide to promote cultural and civic engagement in the 21st century. Gina is currently involved in many artistic ventures, such as producing a documentary film titled Another Night In The Free World that explores the lives of three young women activists, their struggles and challenges and the difference they are making in the world. She and her father are the executive producers of Lyrics from Lockdown - a hip-hop spoken word musical, multimedia production addressing the impact of wrongful imprisonment and mass incarceration, which had its first run at The National Black Theatre of Harlem. Driven by her passion for the arts and activism, Gina reflects: "After we finished Sing Your Song, I knew then as long as my dad had an idea, I would do whatever I could to help bring those ideas to fruition, continue the best of my elders’ traditions, and preserve our family’s legacy."