Black History Month

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Events at International Slavery Museum and UK Anti-Slavery Day

National Museums Liverpool venues will be running a number of free events to mark Black History Month in October and UK Anti-Slavery Day on 18 October 2015.

There will be talks, musical performances, and workshops for all ages at the International Slavery Museum, and nearby Martin Luther King Jr Building. At the Museum of Liverpool, visitors can follow the Black Community and History Trail. Main highlights are listed below.

Additionally, every Wednesday in September and October the education team at the International Slavery Museum will be talking about the collections, looking in more detail at a different object each week including a focus on Human Rights on 14 October, in the run up to Anti-Slavery Day.

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

“The International Slavery Museum not only covers transatlantic slavery and modern forms of slavery and enslavement but African and Black history more generally too. These subjects should be obligatory aspects of world and British history, but we are not there quite yet, so in the meantime, let’s get behind October Black History Month events nationwide.

I wonder how may people know that Black boxers were banned from becoming British boxing champions until as recently as 1947 or about the contribution of Black soldiers at Waterloo? We encourage people to come along and find out more about Black history – a shared history.

Anti-Slavery day also falls at this time - a time to raise awareness of modern slavery and to inspire people to eliminate it. We have a thought-provoking talk on the eve of Anti-Slavery Day based around our current exhibition Broken Lives: Slavery in Modern India. We hope people will come along to show their support for the abolition of modern slavery”

Black History Month is celebrated annually in the United Kingdom in October, and in the United States and Canada in February. It has been marked in the UK since 1987, and in America as Black History Month since the 1970s.

It is an annual observance to remember important people and events in the history of the African diaspora, which saw the historic movement of peoples from Africa, predominantly to the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, among other areas around the globe. The term has been historically applied in particular to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas in the Atlantic slave trade.

Anti-Slavery Day is on 18 October. The day was created by a UK Act of Parliament to raise awareness of modern slavery and to inspire people to eliminate it today. Full details of all Black History Month and UK Anti-Slavery Day events are here:

Black History Month highlights:

Rise and Role of the Colour Bar in British Boxing – International Slavery Museum
10 October, 11am-12noon
Join journalist, author and Business Development professional Gary Shaw (born and raised in Liverpool) for his presentation on the colour bar in British boxing, telling the story of how non-white boxers were banned from becoming British boxing champions from 1909-1947. The colour bar was introduced in 1909 by the small aristocratic group who ran the National Sporting Club in London. The wording of the rule said only British born boxers, “born of white parents,” could contest British titles. It stayed in place throughout WWII until 1947 when it was lifted finally.

Anthony Walker Memorial Lecture Empowering Young People - Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Building
16 October, 5.45-6.45 pm
An event hosted in conjunction with the Walker family and the Anthony Walker Foundation to keep Anthony’s memory alive and continue the fight against racist violence. With a contribution from Dr Gee Walker, speakers include Dr Martin Glynn, author of Black Men, Invisibility, and Desistance from Crime; Ben Osu, former Young Ambassador; Dominique Walker, sister of Anthony Walker and Philipa Harvey, NUT President. The lecture is free to attend but booking is essential. For more information please email:

Broken Lives: Lost Childhoods – International Slavery Museum
17 October, 1-2pm
On the eve of Anti-Slavery Day, this live interview with an Indian activist will explore many of the issues raised by the award-winning, Oscar-nominated short film ‘Kavi’, which you can watch now in the Broken Lives exhibition at the International Slavery Museum. The presentation will focus on why children from Dalit, tribal and other poor and marginalised communities in India are most vulnerable to modern forms of slavery and how this can be addressed. Includes Q&A.

18 October – Anti-Slavery Day
18 October is Anti-Slavery Day, created by a UK Act of Parliament to raise awareness of modern slavery and to inspire people to eliminate it. There are family events today.

Hands of Change – International Slavery Museum
18 October, 1-4pm
Come along to add your piece to our big hands on change work of art in honour of Anti-Slavery Day.

Loango Ivories: in-focus talk – International Slavery Museum
20 October, 2-2.30pm
This talk will focus on the late 19th century carved elephant tusks from Loango in Central Africa displayed in the Enslavement and Middle Passage gallery. These innovative sculptures are ornamented with various narrative scenes carved in a spiral around the tusk. They emerged at a significant point of change in relations between Africans and Europeans after the abolition of the slave trade. Zachary Kingdon, curator of African collections at World Museum, will attempt to unwind the historical narrative of who made them, why and for whom.

Black Soldiers at Waterloo – International Slavery Museum
24 October, 1-2pm
2015 is the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. This is a unique talk delivered by Dr Ray Costello focussing on Black soldiers at Waterloo. We are inviting people to come along and listen to these heroic and tragic accounts, and to perhaps rethink your perceptions of Black participation in Britain's wars. Ray Costello is an independent historian, writer and an honorary research fellow of the School of Sociology and Social Science, University of Liverpool. Ray is also a Board member of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery (CSIS).

Half-term – International Slavery Museum
26-30 October
Half-term in October is also linked to Black History Month with ‘Celebrating Sound’ as the theme, and a number of events inspired by music of Black origin.

Black Community and History Trail - Museum of Liverpool
With the oldest Black community in Europe, Liverpool has a major place in UK Black history. This free trail highlights some of the Museums collection, which reflects the contribution of this community throughout the city’s history.

Did You Know? - Black History facts

• Over 175,000 Black troops served in the Union army and navy during the American Civil War.
• During a promotional tour of England in 1944 the boxing legend Joe Louis signed for Liverpool FC.
• The activist Michael de Freitas changed his name to Michael X after meeting Malcolm X who was visiting England in 1965.
• John Richard Archer, who became London’s first Black mayor in 1913 when elected in Battersea, was born in Liverpool.
• Lord Learie Constantine, cricket legend and Britain’s first Black peer, played for Nelson Cricket Club in Lancashire.

Free entry
Open daily
Albert Dock Liverpool Waterfront Liverpool L3 4AX
Telephone 0151 478 4499
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Notes to editors

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 transatlantic slavery and its legacies as well as modern 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, 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 nearly 2.7 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.