Remember the past, act to end slavery today

Ellie McDonald blogs about the International Day of Remembrance for the victims of slavery and the Transatlantic slave trade and our March ‘Fundraise for Freedom’ appeal.

Slavery has existed for hundreds of years, but it's easy to forget it's still widespread today
In remembering, we do not blind ourselves to the fact that slavery still exists today.

25 March 2016

Today is the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

For Anti-Slavery International, this day is of great importance. We came into existence in 1839 to campaign for the eradication of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. For us, this commemorative day offers an opportunity to honour those men, women and children who resisted and fought the brutal slavery system. This year it also falls on Good Friday.

The role of people in slavery in resisting, leading and maintaining their communities should not be forgotten. Slavery was abolished through the coming together of two parallel movements, the resistance of those who objected to slavery – figures like Clarkson, Wilberforce, Buxton, and many more – and of those who challenged and fought the slavery system from within.

Yet today is not only for remembrance but for action.

This March we encouraged our local groups and supporters to Fundraise for Freedom to support the fight against slavery. This month has seen coordinated local actions from several of our groups and supporters.

Our Glasgow Anti-Slavery Group are tonight hosting an evening of vegan food, capoeira and talks from Dr Stephen Mullen and the Reverend Dr Iain Whyte in an event titled, ‘It Wisnae Us: Scotland and Slavery’. This event will pay homage to Scotland’s connections to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its abolition while also linking this to modern slavery. It looks to be a huge success with over 200 attending and 1,000 interested in attending. To all of our Glasgow supporters, please get in touch with our Glasgow Group to find out how you can get involved.

Our UCL Anti-Slavery Group took part in a series of actions last week, including a debate on Britain’s legacy of slavery and the question of reparations and a series of ‘photo petitions’ staged in the main area of the UCL campus to raise awareness of the existence of Modern Slavery. Find the pictures here.

Alongside this, we reached out our different faith groups and local churches, some of whom were involved in the early campaigns against the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We have also been selected as one of the RAG charities for Cambridge and Bradford Universities who have been raising funds for freedom all year.

Thank you to all our groups and supporters. Thank you for continuing to raise funds and awareness in your communities and for supporting our work. We stand with you!

Today of all days, we are reminded that slavery is neither illegal nor extinct. As our Director, Aidan McQuade, has pointed out on numerous occasions, ineffective laws and their lack of implementation have allowed for the continuation of slavery and slavery-like practices.

This is why today we take action and remember. In remembering, we honour those who suffered in slavery and fought against their oppressors. But in remembering, we do not blind ourselves to the fact that slavery still exists today.

If you would like to get involved with raising funds and awareness for Anti-Slavery International, please contact us.