Slavery Remembrance Day 2016

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Walk of Remembrance on 23 August

National Museums Liverpool has three days of commemoration, celebration and remembrance planned for the city’s 17th annual Slavery Remembrance Day, which is marked on 23 August.

The city 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.

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 (Tuesday 23 August at 11am) through the City Centre on Slavery Remembrance Day. This has been taking place since 2011 in Liverpool and will this year be led by community representatives including the family of Dorothy Kuya, a woman described as ‘Liverpool’s greatest fighter against racism’.

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

“Slavery Remembrance Day is a vital event not only for the International Slavery Museum but 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.

“We also live with the legacies of transatlantic slavery and enslavement, such as racism and discrimination and ongoing inequalities, injustices and exploitation and that is why the International Slavery Museum is a campaigning museum - promoting social justice through it’s work.”

The Walk of Remembrance concludes after about 30-40 minutes outside the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr building where there will be public performances, before a Libation - an ancient spiritual ceremony, which involves an offering - is performed to commemorate and pay tribute to those affected by slavery. For the last 17 years, people have converged in Liverpool for this traditional ceremony to remember ancestors of African and Caribbean heritage and the enslaved.

The public performances have been programmed by Nothin But The Music, a creative music agency that curates all types of events and projects both nationally and internationally, which “is honoured to be able to curate some of the artistic performances for Slavery Remembrance Day 2016”.

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:

• 19 August – Family Friendly Day
International Slavery Museum, 11am – 4pm. Free. Drop-in event.
Our family-friendly Slavery Remembrance Day activities include drumming workshops, face painting, screen printing, and lots more.

• 22 August - Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr building. Doors open from 5pm. Free. Booking required.
Delivered by BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip hop artist, writer/poet and historian Akala, this year’s Lecture will explore the Haitian Revolution, which Slavery Remembrance Day commemorates. The lecture is fully booked currently, but returns may become available, so please check back on Eventbrite:

Around the Lecture, there will also be public performances. Spxken - The duo that consist of Jay Angelo and TeeSoulFul make up Spxken (pronounced spoken). Nothin But The Music has worked with TeeSoulFul on a special spoken word piece for Slavery Remembrance Day 2016 which focuses on Revolution and Remembrance. Spxken who attended LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) have honed their writing and spoken word abilities over the last few years and we’re sure you will all enjoy this exclusive piece.

Further to a documentary making session at the International Slavery Museum last week with Jernice Easthope, a short film created by our participants tackling the themes of Revolution and Remembrance will be shown to the public for the first time.

Terri Walker - Terri Walker is an award-winning über-successful international R&B and soul singer/songwriter, with Terri’s wonderful songwriting abilities and her amazing voice, Nothin But The Music felt like she would be the perfect artist to sing a few songs dedicated to the spirit of this occasion.

• Performances (12-12.30pm)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr building. Free. Drop-in events.
Including a collaborative performance by local artists Amique, Raheem Alameen and Spxken (pronounced Spoken), known as ‘Revelation to Revolution’. Artistically directed by Amique, the group have produced a special music medley that speaks to the spirit of Slavery Remembrance Day.     

• Libation ceremony (12.50-1.15pm)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr building. Free. Drop-in events.
A 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

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 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 2.8million 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.  


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