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International Slavery Remembrance Day today in Greenwich

LEST WE FORGET: A crowd reflects during a previous International Slavery Remembrance Day (image credit: Royal Maritime Greenwich)

TODAY, THE National Maritime Museum in Greenwich will be marking International Slavery Remembrance Day with a series of emotive and informative free events for all ages.

Designated by UNESCO as International Slavery Remembrance Day, the date commemorates the 1791 Haitian Revolution, an uprising lead by enslaved Africans in Haiti that played a crucial role in the abolition of the international slave trade.

Visitors to the National Maritime Museum will experience a powerful day of commemoration through the museum’s own collection, performances, tours and workshops. Singing group Ethno Vox will open the day with songs of freedom, solidarity and resistance. Visitors can also join the Caribbean Social Forum, who will use games to explore the cultural legacies of the transatlantic slave trade. In the afternoon, a walking tour around Greenwich will show the impact that enslavement had on African sailors and writers who settled in the area and the subsequent growth of this part of London.

Brolly Productions will also debut their new opera, The Powder Monkey: Maritime 1788 which has been developed by composer Dominique Le Gendre working closely with the Museum’s collection. The opera tells the hidden stories of enslaved people through the main character of ‘Powder Monkey’, who is enslaved on a ship sailing in the middle passage between the coast of West Africa and the Indies. Set in 1788 against a backdrop of British global expansion and slavery, the opera draws on the traditional music of west Africa and the Indian subcontinent, as well as the north of England and maritime creole work songs.

The day will close with a commemorative ceremony which will take place on the banks of the River Thames in Greenwich. The London River played a significant role in the London slave trade, where several slave ships departed the port of London to participate in the largest forced migration in human history. Participants will be able to scatter white petals in reflection and commemoration.

The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire is a permanent gallery at the National Maritime Museum and explores themes of exploration, trade, war, enslavement and resistance. Entrance to the museum is free of charge and booking is not required.

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