International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition - The National Library of Jamaica

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

August 23 is marked as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

August 1791 is also the anniversary of the start of the Haitian Revolution. The uprising of enslaved and free black men and women on the island of Saint-Dominique lasted over 12 years before finally overthrowing French colonial rule and the institution of slavery in the country. The nation proclaimed its Independence and assumed the name given to the island by its indigenous inhabitants – Haiti. The impact of the Haitian Revolution was felt throughout the Atlantic World and became a major turning point in the fight for abolition.

The fight for freedom was hard-won.

The economic gains of the Slave Trade bankrolled the grand cities of Europe while its long-lasting effects continue to beset the societies of post-colonial Caribbean nations. Social injustices which continue to be experienced by Black persons all over the world are the legacy of this history.

 

Liverpool – which owed much of its prosperity to the Slave Trade

 

In a message to mark the day, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO expressed:

UNESCO aims to recall the crucial importance of the transmission of history in order to shed light on the fight against all forms of oppression and racism today… Ignorance is our enemy: it is used as an alibi by the indifferent who state that “we cannot change anything”, and sanctions the lies of those who claim that “they did not know”. Everyone must know the scale of the crime of the slave trade, the millions of lives broken and the impact on the fate of continents up to this very day. Everyone must be fully informed of the struggle that led to its abolition, so that together we can build societies that are fairer, and thus freer.

– Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

 

The National Library of Jamaica houses many resources on the history of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. A chronology of the history of the slave trade can be viewed here.

The UNESCO Slave Route project, established in 1994, is another valuable resource. The project seeks to raise awareness, promote debate, and help build consensus on approaches to be taken on addressing issues on the slave trade and slavery.