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Will Britain face up to its role in slavery?

ABOUT TIME: Jeremy Corbyn

LABOUR’S PLANS for a Slavery Education Trust will no doubt be welcomed by many in Britiain’s black community.

It was the Transatlantic slave trade that allowed the British Empire to enjoy the global dominance and power that it did during its heyday.

Yet our political leaders hardly ever refer to this historical fact or acknowledge the important role that Britain played in the operation of the Transatlantic slave trade.

Neither is there much said in public debate about the fact many of the country’s major cities such as Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and London grew wealthy and prosperous as a result of it. But this wealth came at a terrible human cost.

Men and women were taken from Africa and were shackled and transported in terrible conditions aboard disease-ridden ships. Those who survived the journey were often met with unimaginable physical and emotional cruelty.

Countless lives were lost. It is estimated that between 1700 and 1810 British merchants transported almost three million Africans across the Atlantic with more than 30,000 voyages happened.

In 2006 former Prime Minister Tony Blair made a historic statement condemning Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade as a ‘crime against humanity’ and expressing ‘deep sorrow’ that it ever happened. But he stopped short of a full apology.

And during a 2015 visit to Jamaica, former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron ducked official calls for Britain to apologise for its role or pay reparations.

Jeremy Corbyn however has publicly stated what few other mainstream politicians have had the courage to say – the Transatlnatic slave trade was an appalling crime against humanity and it is important that Britain’s role in it is never forgotten.

The legacy of slavery is still felt throughout society, particularly by black, Asian and minority ethnic people in this country who still face deep inequality and discrimination.

Too often Britain is portrayed as a benevolent benefactor rather than a country with a burden of debt to Africa and the Caribbean.

Hopefully the proposed new body will go some way to changing this.

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