Slavery Remembrance Day 2023 will look at the theme of transformation through a series of lectures, workshops, and performances, as National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool City Council and other partners across the city observe this important date in the calendar.
Since 1999, Liverpool has marked Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August. This is a significant date as it commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti) in 1791. The date has been designated by UNESCO as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.
Liverpool was the European capital of the transatlantic slave trade, responsible for half of Britain’s trade. 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 on a horrendous journey known as ‘The Middle Passage.’ Slavery Remembrance Day acknowledges this major period of trauma and injustice in world history which is too often forgotten – or not even acknowledged.
Michelle Charters, Trustee at National Museums Liverpool, said: “As someone who has been involved with NML’s, International Slavery Museum (concept and growth since 1994), it is good to see that the 2023 Slavery Remembrance Day has expanded its activities this year. Going forward, we are committed to ensuring this comprehensive partnership approach continues to develop and grow. We thank all contributors and partner organisations who, over the last 24 years have played their part in ensuring we continue to reflect, remember and acknowledge our ancestors.”
Each year Slavery Remembrance Day invites a keynote speaker to deliver the prestigious Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Memorial Lecture. This year, Professor Hakim Adi, Professor of the History of Africa and the African Diaspora at the University of Chichester will deliver the lecture – a key part of Liverpool’s Slavery Remembrance Day programme, which takes place at Liverpool Town Hall on Tuesday 22 August.
A Walk of Remembrance and libation ceremony will take place on Wednesday 23 August. Starting at 12pm from Williamson Square, the walk takes people on a journey through Liverpool, highlighting areas of historical significance across the city, visiting venues across the city centre, including the Bluecoat and Liverpool ONE, where a performance by local drumming group Katumba will take place. The event ends with a libation ceremony at Canning Dock.
Other events throughout the week include curator talks from National Museums Liverpool, including ‘Carving Out Truths’ - exploring the links between Walker Art Gallery’s sculpture gallery and the slave trade, and the opportunity to meet the International Slavery Museum’s curatorial team to find out about their research on collections, and what they can tell us about slavery and its legacies.
Claire Benjamin, Head of Learning & Participation at National Museums Liverpool, said: "Slavery Remembrance Day allows us to consider the many legacies and achievements of people of African heritage throughout the diaspora. It is also a time to reflect on the continuing fight against racism today. While Transatlantic Slavery is over, the foundations on which it stood have not been fully dismantled.
"We are honoured to once again be a part of the city’s Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations, bringing the city together in remembrance and action."
For full listings including information on other artists talks taking place and details of all events, please visit: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/SRD.