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Bristol & Liverpool commemorate Transatlantic Slavery Day

Musician Biram will also be playing at the Celebratory Mini Carnival

A series of community events to celebrate UNESCO Slavery Remembrance Day on Monday 23rd August are planned in the old slave port’s of Bristol and Liverpool. The events include activities such as carnivals, history walks along Bristol’s and Liverpools Slave Trail and a range of free lectures and concerts.

As part of a day to commemorate all of estimated 50 million lives lost to slavery, 23rd August has been chosen by UNESCO and the UK Government to celebrate the resistance and struggles of the enslaved Africans which eventually led to them securing their freedom.

These events are designed to celebrate the struggle to ensure the abolition of the slave trade and to remind the UK that transatlantic slavery was one of the greatest crime’s against humanity ever recorded. The UK reaped huge profits for the despicable trade financing the developments associated with the industrial revolution. Britain made unprecedented profits and benefited enormously for the bloody trade. The legacy of racism remains with us some 400 years later.

In Bristol the day will start with a journey along the Slave Trail Walk around Bristol, lead by local poet Jackie Davies, followed by a ‘Celebratory Mini Carnival’ including a delicious ‘cook out’ Caribbean lunch in the delightful surroundings of historic Queen Square.

Bristolians will have the opportunity to watch high energy dancing by the African Sambistas & learn about the legacy of slavery in the city.

The highlight of the day will be a free concert featuring upbeat performances in the stunning new wing of Colston Hall, where donations to support the Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Appeal will be collected.

The events are being produced on behalf of the Bristol Legacy Commission, a local voluntary community led organisation established in 2008 by Bristol City Council to transform culture, education and health for communities in Bristol.

The Bristol Legacy Commission is chaired by Paul Stephenson OBE who has long been recognised for his services to equal opportunities and to community relations in Bristol.

Paul Stephenson, Chair, Bristol Legacy Commission stated;

“As global citizens this day is a time for reflection, a time for Bristol citizens to learn from each other, celebrate and share each other’s cultures, thus enhancing a city that welcomes the fruitfulness of difference.”

Barbara Janke, Leader of Bristol City Council, commented:

“This event is an occasion not only to acknowledge the past, but also to recognise the energy, talents and confidence of our city and its people in 2010 and to look forward to a future that we are all building together.

It is a future in which the council will continue to work with all its communities to develop closer ties and encourage all of Bristol’s citizens to realise their potential and contribute.”

Navina Bartlett, Coconut Chilli Digital a events company hired to organise the event, concluded:

“It’s well known that Bristol was a slave port and we are proud to be organising these important events in Bristol, which are part of worldwide celebrations to recognise UNESCO Slavery Remembrance Day. We have taken a creative approach and thought about performers and experiences to will appeal to a real cross section of Bristol’s very diverse communities. It will certainly be a day to remember.”

In Liverpool there are a wide range of events including Liverpool’s annual Slavery Remembrance Day festival which commemorates the lives of millions of enslaved Africans but also celebrates the resistance, rebellion and revolution that ended transatlantic slave trade.

The day’s programme will include live music, community showcases, cultural crafts and a traditional African libation ceremony. Market stalls will also be selling traditional West African and Caribbean food.

This is the third year that this important day has been marked since the Government designated 23rd August as the official day. This is the day that saw the beginning of the uprising led by Toussaint-L’Ouverture against the French colonists and slavers in Haiti.

It resulted in the establishment of Haiti, the first African republic in the Western World. This revolution would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade; the day is an important reminder that freedom was not gifted to the slaves by benevolent abolitionists, but fought for continuously by revolutionaries across the Americas.

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