Revealing Histories 'In conversation' events

Legacies: Commemorating the bicentenary of British abolition

2007 was the bicentenary of the British abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Although 1807 did not end slavery, it provided a focus for activities and events, especially across cultural institutions, to commemorate the bicentenary of British abolition.

Slavery continued in British colonies until it was finally abolished in the British colonies of the Caribbean, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Canada and Cape Town in 1838. Slavery continued in other forms and in many British colonies and other countries well into the 1900s.

Many said the commemorations in 2007 did not go far enough and called for a national public apology as well as reparations. Others said that the 1807 act had little impact and significant profits from slave trading took place in the period after abolition (see Sherwood, ‘After Abolition’ 2007).

In Greater Manchester, the Revealing Histories project brought together eight museums and galleries to commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade in 1807 and to explore the legacy of slavery in the museum collections, in the local communities and in the region.

The project was an opportunity to explore the impact slavery had on the British economy, society and culture. The port cities connections to transatlantic slavery were widely known, but little research had been carried out until now on the impact of slavery in Greater Manchester.

The research into the objects, people and places in the north west makes a vital contribution to the national picture of the impact of slavery which has become part of the public domain in 2007.

The 2007 bicentenary generated significant national discussion around the 'hidden' history and legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. It raised profound questions about the understanding and ownership of the history of slavery and its impact on culture and society today. But this is only a start.

Slavery is part of our shared history that still impacts on our lives today. This website brings together different voices. Join the debate, add your voice and continue the discussion.

‘If you know your history, then you will know where you’re coming from.’

Bob Marley, Jamaican musician.

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