What a few weeks it has been and one with a strong American theme. First of all, as promised, some feedback regards my trip to Atlanta for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database launch at Emory University . The conference was very interesting indeed and had a number of academics, students and members of the public attend. There was a great deal of interest from people in the International Slavery Museum and how we hoped to use the database. The database is the most extensive in existence and includes slave voyages from various countries and ports. Liverpool is obviously central to the database. I was approached by one member of the public who told me that the name Liverpool was given to many enslaved Africans in Georgia to denote where the ship had originally sailed from. I explained I had not heard of this before or had seen any documents but that I would follow it up on my return.
Before I flew back to the UK I managed to visit a number of institutions and historic sites connected to Martin Luther King Jr, who was born in Atlanta, such as the King Center and his birth home. Along with a number of other visitors I was shown around this historic site by Kevin - a National Park Service ranger. I don't think people take pictures of him very often as he was 'made up' as they say here in Liverpool. It was quite moving to be in the house where such a prominent individual was born and spent his early years. But in a sense what was even more thought-provoking for me were some of his personal items on display at the King Center. Such as a denim jacket, small suitcase, shirts, hat and books which he took on short trips to deliver speeches or attend rallies. It personalised this truly iconic figure.
The week before I had the pleasure of meeting the Rev Jesse Jackson (a patron of the International Slavery Museum) for the second time whilst he was in Liverpool as part of a lecture tour of the North West. Last time the Reverend was here he only had a brief tour of the museum (followed by a mass of media) but this time he was with a small entourage and spent almost two hours in the museum. Whilst watching a film on Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr the Reverend turned to me and remarked that he was stood next to the Reverend King when he was assassinated on the landing of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1968. The site is now the National Civil Rights Museum.
It reminded me just how much the museum means to people. From internationally recognized individuals like the Reverend Jackson to visitors from around the diaspora and indeed form the local community. Not all museums have the same effect.
Bye for now.