The British Library and International Slavery Remembrance Day

Ahead of International Slavery Remembrance Day Nicola Pomery, Family and Community Programmes Manager at the British Library, talks about their West Africa Community Project. 

The British Library is honoured to be involved in the National Maritime Museum’s International Slavery Remembrance Day, to remember the lives lost in the transatlantic slave trade.
As part of this event, we will be screening our West Africa Community Project film series, which involved four community groups working with storytelling, sound and music, to develop short films around the themes and content of the British Library’s recent exhibition, West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song (16 October 2015 – 16 February 2016). 
This exhibition was a rich and powerful  source of inspiration for everyone involved in the project, showcasing literature and music from the great African empires of the Middle Ages, through to the cultural dynamism of West Africa today. 
The films were created over eight sessions by groups from The Africa Centre, Caribbean Social Forum, Springfield Community Flats and the general public. We worked with a team of filmmakers from Chocolate Films to deliver the project, who have a great deal of experience in community engagement and were an absolute joy to work with.
The project kick-started with informative exhibition tours from lead curators Janet Topp Fargion and Marion Wallace, whose expertise and passion provided a fascinating insight into the objects on display. Everyone was then asked to bring interesting items from home to share with one another such as family letters, photographs, unique objects and fabrics. These personal items, along with the exhibition, then became the catalyst and focus for the films, with each person re-telling poignant stories from their lives. 
We are delighted that the legacy of the West Africa exhibition and project continues at this event on such an important day for reflection - to commemorate the trade of enslaved peoples.
To find out more about the free event see our website
If you can’t join us at this event on Tuesday 23 August you can also watch the films online
There are also further resources and articles from the exhibition still available here
The British Library’s family and community programme is generously supported by John Lyon’s Charity and The Sackler Trust.