A petition is demanding that the UK government finance a memorial to commemorate victims of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.
The petition, which appears on Change.org is the lastest push in a campaign that has been ongoing for nearly 20 years.
There is no major national memorial in England that commemorates the victims of the trade in Africans.
Oku Ekpenyon and her organisation Memorial 2007 have been campaigning for 17 years for a memorial to Remember Enslaved Africans and their Descendants in London’s Hyde Park, and have secured planning permission for a space in the Rose Gardens, commissioned a design by international sculptor Les Johnson and raised nearly £100,000.
But on 7 November 2019 the planning permission will expire, and the site will be lost if £4million cannot be raised.
As part of her long campaign Ekpenyon has contacted every Prime Minister from Tony Blair to Boris Johnson asking for support, but funding has not been forthcoming.
The petition now calls on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund the first, dedicated major national memorial to Enslaved Africans who were transported into slavery by Britain, before 7 November.
Patrons of Memorial 2007 include Lady Davson, the great, great, great granddaughter of famed anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce; The Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu, Lord Boateng, and Baroness Lawrence. Race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust and Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon also support the campaign.
Ekpenyon said it was important to change the fact that in Britain we commemorate our past through memorials such as those to World War I, the Holocaust and the Srebrenica genocide, but have nothing that reflects on enslavement.
She said: “To lose this opportunity to build a landmark that will invite contemplation and reflection for years to come would be a grave shame and a social injustice. Memorialising our past is a central part of who we are as a country. This is everyone’s history.”
Kimberly McIntosh from the Runnymede Trust said “It is unacceptable that the capital city of a nation that built a global empire and its wealth in large part as a result of its role in the slave trade, has no significant monument marking the role that Britain played in these historic atrocities.”
She said: “We gain greater moral reflection from considering the times when we failed to live up to the values of freedom and democracy than when we portray ourselves as always being on the right side of history.”
To sign the petition please visit Change.org.