International Slavery Remembrance Day

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is marked on 23 August each year to commemorate the victims of the brutal and tragic transatlantic slave trade.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Between the 1400s and 1800s, 12 - 15 million men, women and children were forcibly transported from Africa to the Americas.

This day stands as a reminder of the bravery, courage, resilience and determination of enslaved African people who continuously fought for their freedom. It is a time to remember that people fought and died to establish their own freedom and liberation from the tyranny of enslavement.

The day also raises the contemporary legacies of transatlantic slavery which are manifested in the continued racism and prejudice against Black and Caribbean communities.

UNESCO selected the 23 August to annually mark this commemoration as this was the day in which self-liberated enslaved people on the island of Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) rose up against French colonial rule and played a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

In 2007 Britain commemorated 200 years since the 1807 Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade which outlawed the trade throughout the British Empire and made it illegal for British Ships to be involved in it.

This marked the beginning of the end for the transatlantic traffic in human beings as a legalised trade. This was however, one year of many in the long struggle for emancipation throughout the world.

This illegal trade continued for many years afterwards and slavery itself was not abolished in some countries until the late 1880s.

Marking International Slavery Remembrance Day in 2020

We are delighted to announce that London Lucumi Choir will be hosting the events for International Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August.

Due to COVID-19, we have moved the majority of events online in order to keep our communities and visitors as safe as possible. 

The Emancipation ceremony that is held every year will, however, still go ahead on site at the National Maritime Museum with a priority to maintain social distancing. The procession will be led by Natalie Cooper from London Lucumi Choir.

London Lucumi Choir performance 

On 23 August 2020 we live streamed a special performance by the London Lucumi Choir. 


Seed of the Fruit 

By Mark Thompson

Seed of the Fruit is a new poem, commissioned by the National Maritime Museum.

In the piece, the Anglo-Jamaican spoken word artist, performer, educator and activist Mark Thompson explores both his and Britain's connection to the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans. This brought so many people, including some of his ancestors, to the Caribbean and the Americas and which eventually leads us to the creation of the modern and multicultural city of London that Mark calls home. 

Watch other poems from Mark Thompson

We didn't wanna watch 

Cultural Chameleon

Intolerants not welcome 

World Views: The Transatlantic Slave Trade 

Join Young Historians Project volunteer Kaitlene Koranteng as she discusses some of the objects in the Royal Museums Greenwich collection and what they tell us about the histories surrounding the slave trade. 



Young Historians Project

Young Historians Project a non-profit organisation formed by young people encouraging the development of young historians of African and Caribbean heritage in Britain. Their current project focuses on African Women in British Health Care in the 20th century. 

Ethno Vox discuss International Slavery Remembrance Day

International Slavery Remembrance Day 2019

Read the blog

Listen to a playlist

Listen to a playlist inspired by International Slavery Remembrance Day. 

Banner image: designed by Mawu | @mawuspen

Discover more on this topic on the Understanding Slavery website