10 years of International Slavery Museum

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Special events to celebrate, commemorate and remember

The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool is marking its 10th anniversary this year, after first opening its doors on 23 August  2007 – the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade, and the annual date of Slavery Remembrance Day.

The International Slavery Museum is the only Museum in the world to look at the transatlantic slave trade and modern slavery.

Its 10th anniversary will be marked with the launch of a brand new exhibition, and a programme of special events and talks, beginning with a week of activity from Monday 21 August.

The anniversary launch week will be full of inspirational activities, starting with the opening of a specially curated exhibition; Ink and Blood: stories of abolition. There will also be a street carnival and commemorative events for the city’s 18th year of marking Slavery Remembrance Day, including a keynote lecture and the annual Walk of Remembrance and Libation, organised by the International Slavery Museum with support from 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.

Since opening its doors in 2007, the International Slavery Museum has welcomed over four million visitors including 279,119  schoolchildren.

Dr. Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, said:

“It is a proud moment for me, the team and National Museums Liverpool generally to have reached our 10th anniversary. Our aim was to inform, educate, and acknowledge the city’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, whilst actively challenging the legacies of that involvement such as racism and discrimination in Liverpool and beyond.

“We are pleased to offer a strong programme of free events so we can together mark our 10 years, and Slavery Remembrance Day. The opening of our latest exhibition, which looks at the human face of abolition, is a great reminder of the Museum’s roots, opening on the Bicentenary of An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, an important moment in the history of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.”  

Monday 21 August
The Museum reveals its new exhibition Ink and Blood: stories of abolition, which explores the personal stories of previously enslaved people and the lasting legacies of, and contemporary responses to, abolition.

Ink and Blood: stories of abolition brings together a fascinating private collection, iconic documents from leading museums and archives, and rare objects from both the Anti-Slavery International library and those collected as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures project. The exhibition tells the stories of those affected by abolition (the ending of slavery) and later, freedom. It is an opportunity to see abolition up close through ink (paper) and blood (people).

For more information see www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/inkandblood and #inkandblood.

Tuesday 22 August
The Unity Carnival
A fun and family-friendly day of activities compered by BBC Radio Merseyside’s Ngunan Adamu, to recognise and celebrate the resilience and resistance of enslaved Africans, ahead of the Dorothy Kuya Memorial Lecture.

The Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture
Delivered by a keynote speaker, soon to be announced. The event is free to attend, and always popular – recent speakers include Akala, David Olusoga, Amma Asante, Professor Verene Shepherd, Dr Gee Walker and Mr Martin Luther King III. Places are limited, so we invite anyone who is interested to follow us on Twitter @SlaveryMuseum and Facebook (InternationalSlaveryMuseum) for all the latest news.

Wednesday 23 August
Slavery Remembrance Day
The Museum marks its 18th annual Slavery Remembrance Day in Liverpool, a city which has been at the forefront of Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations since they began in 1999.

UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – chose the 23 August as 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, it remembers Liverpool’s role as the main European slaving port, and it also celebrates the survival and development of African and Caribbean cultures.

Dr Benjamin continued:

“Slavery Remembrance Day is a vital event for the International Slavery Museum, for Liverpool and the country as a whole. It not only commemorates the lives and deaths of millions of Africans enslaved during the period of the transatlantic slave trade, but recognises their resilience and resistance too. If you've never been to a Slavery Remembrance Day event before, why not make it this time, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary?”

Walk of Remembrance
Everyone is invited to 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 Libation
The Libation is an ancient spiritual ceremony, which involves an offering - is performed to commemorate and pay tribute to those affected by slavery. For the last 18 years, people have converged in Liverpool for this traditional ceremony to remember ancestors of African and Caribbean heritage and the enslaved.

1pm onwards
From 1pm a range of free activities will take place within the International Slavery Museum including talks, object handling, performances and badge-making.

The Museum has a year-round programme of free events, talks and exhibitions. Look out for the special #ISM10years events, organised for the anniversary year. In July, these include a Human Rights Poetry Workshop and sessions for school groups of Capoeira, which has its roots in the transatlantic slave trade.

For further details on our lecture and all other Slavery Remembrance Day events, please visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/srd and #srdliverpool

For further details on all the 10th anniversary events at the Museum, please visit http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/events/10th-anniversary-listings.aspx and #ISM10years

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 18 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 Albert Dock. 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. 

About National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. 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 million visitors every year. Our venues are World Museum, Museum of Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.  

Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery