Free event

Essential Information

Location
National Maritime Museum
Date and Times Tuesday 23 August | 10am-5pm
Prices Free

On 23 August 1791, enslaved people on the island of Santo Domingo (modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) rose up against French colonial rule.

The uprising played a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

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That's why, on 23 August each year, we commemorate the long struggle for emancipation throughout the world.

Join us at the National Maritime Museum for a day of talks, workshops and performances exploring the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies.

The day will end with an emancipation ceremony, where visitors and performers can join together in a procession from the National Maritime Museum to the River Thames.

Sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with our plans for this year's commemorations, and check this page closer to the time for full visitor details.

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What is International Slavery Remembrance Day?

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.

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A quote from abolitionist Ignatius Sancho. The quote reads, 'Consider slavery – what it is – how bitter a draught, and how many millions are made to drink it'

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 mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. 23 August was the day that 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.

Keep up to date

Sign up to our newsletter to find out more about Slavery Remembrance Day and more events at the National Maritime Museum.

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A digitised collage printed on mirrored aluminium

Art and intervention at the National Maritime Museum

LIQUID CARBON (2021) is a digitised collage of drawings of water and paintings printed on mirrored aluminium, created by artist Deanio X and commissioned by the National Maritime Museum. It is currently on display in the Museum's Atlantic Worlds gallery.

"The work explores the resilience and resourcefulness of the African diaspora in response to the colonising project of the British empire," explains the artist. "The composite artwork builds upon motifs of blood, culture and memory to evoke a chaotic scene of resistance in the Atlantic Ocean’s middle passage and contemplates how the ripples of history return to meet us in the future."

Seed of the Fruit is a new poem written by Mark Thompson and commissioned by the National Maritime Museum.

In the piece, the Anglo-Jamaican spoken word artist explores both his and Britain's connection to the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans.

Find more work by Mark Thompson

World Views: the Transatlantic Slave Trade 

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

Sound and memory

Listen to a playlist inspired by International Slavery Remembrance Day.

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