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Maritime Museum marks International Slavery Remembrance Day

The National Maritime Museum is marking International Slavery Remembrance Day with a series of free family- events.

Taking place throughout the Museum and around Greenwich on Tuesday 23 August, the programme includes poetry, songs, talks and workshops and culminates in a unique commemorative ceremony by the River Thames.

This year’s events explore the National Maritime Museum’s vast collections relating to the trade of enslaved people as well as focusing on the many local connections to be found in the Greenwich World Heritage site. Award-winning composer and conductor Shirley Thompson discusses her internationally acclaimed work, The Woman Who Refused to Dance, which was inspired by the National Maritime Museum’s collection; Jeremy Black gives the first public talk on his forthcoming book A Brief History of Slavery; and writer and historian S. I. Martin reveals the hidden impact of the transatlantic slave trade on a walk around Greenwich.

On 23 August 1791, the first successful slave uprising in the western hemisphere took place in Haiti. This event led to the island's independence and was a major step towards the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Now designated by UNESCO as International Slavery Remembrance Day, the National Maritime Museum has marked 23 August for the past 10 years to highlight transatlantic slavery as a maritime history.

The events include:

Shirley Thompson: The Woman Who Refused to Dance.
Award-winning composer and conductor Shirley Thompson talks about her acclaimed work, The Woman Who Refused to Dance. Inspired by an artefact in the National Maritime Museum’s collection, the piece incorporates classical musicians, a soprano and a spoken word artist. The Woman Who Refused to Dance has been performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and toured all over the world, becoming an international sensation.

Jeremy Black: A Brief History of Slavery
Jeremy Black gives the first public talk on his forthcoming book, A Brief History of Slavery, which looks at how slavery was first developed in the ancient world and reaches all the way to present day and the contemporary crimes of trafficking and bonded labour.

Hidden History Walk
Join S.I. Martin on a hidden history trail around the museum, Greenwich Park and the waterfront to find out more about formerly-enslaved writers like Equiano and Sancho as well as the lives of sailors from Africa and the Caribbean who lived locally during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Burt Ceasar: Alternative gallery tour
Actor and broadcaster Burt Ceasar leads a tour around the museum’s The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade and Empire gallery, which explores the maritime connections between Africa, the Americas and Europe.
12.00, 13.30, 15.00

The Power of Poetry
Poet David Neita leads a workshop that demonstrates how poetry can move the masses. Hear some of David's reflective and insightful works and add your own poetic voice to this commemorative event.
Suitable for ages 10+
12.30, 15.00

Songs of Freedom: workshop
Singing group Ethnovox lead this workshop which explores how songs were used as a powerful medium of resistance whilst bringing about a message of solidarity, hope and freedom.
All ages and abilities welcome
11.30, 15.00

Holding history: gallery object handling session
A unique opportunity to explore the museum’s objects and different forms of resistance to enslavement..
Suitable for ages 10+ years
11:30, 12.30, 13.30, 14.30

Tracing History: archive session
Join S. I. Martin in the museum’s new Compass Lounge to investigate transatlantic slavery through rare and revealing manuscripts, and unlock hidden histories of enslaved people and their struggle for freedom.
Suitable for ages 10+
11.30, 15.45

Family Treasures
Talk about why your treasure is special to you and your family and add your thoughts to a giant drawing. This drop in workshop is designed to explore history and culture through the objects people treasure, and as an introduction to learning about transatlantic slavery.
All ages welcome
11.30, 14.00

Closing ceremony
Broadcaster and actor Burt Caesar leads the closing ceremony of 2011’s International Slavery Remembrance Day which takes place by the River Thames at the Water Gates at the Old Royal Naval College. After a recital of Derek Walcott’s The Sea is History participants are invited to throw white rose petals into the river in an act of silent commemoration.

Reflective and Remembering Space
Quiet reflection and resource space where everyone can interact with material and give feedback on their experiences.
Open to all throughout the day

For further details please visit

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