Thursday, August 24, 2006

Remembering slavery

I was very pleased to attend yesterday’s event, organised by the Greater London UNISON Regional Black Members Committee as part of the Remembrance Day for Slavery.

This event was held to implement and support UNISON’s policy, which is that there should be a national day to commemorate the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition, just as there (rightly) is to commemorate the Holocaust.

It was good to be reminded of the work of CLR James on the slave revolt in Haiti in the 1790s, and also to hear from today’s campaigners against slavery.

The wealth of Europe and North America in particular was built on the slavery and oppression of African people kidnapped from their homes and subject to the most appalling treatment. This is not simply a piece of history, because its consequences are all around us. When slave owning was abolished in the 1830s, compensation was paid to the owners. Nothing was given to the former slaves to compensate them.

Next year it will be 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade in Britain, so now is a good time to find out more as well as to support the campaign.

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