First of three lectures on the Atlantic slave trade tonight at St Paul’s Centennial Hall
The Island today marks the International Day for the Remembrance of Slavery with the first of three lectures on the transatlantic slave trade.
Tonight's talk by Lehman College's Mark Christian will focus on the first “point” of the triangle in the trade of enslaved Africans: the UK city of Liverpool, and Dr Christian's home.
“I'll be talking about how the majority of Liverpool's wealth was accrued from the slave trade — and how the slave merchants transferred their wealth into politics and business,” Dr Christian told The Royal Gazette
Dr Christian is a Chair and Professor at Lehman College's Department of African and African American Studies, brought to the Island by the African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) — but Liverpool's dark past is more than an academic concern.
In 1999, Liverpool City Council drew controversy and congratulations by formally apologising for the city's role in the slave trade.
“I was part of the activist group that got that apology,” Dr Christian said.
Many of Liverpool's streets are named after slave traders, including the iconic Penny Lane of Beatles fame.
“It was named after James Penny, a slave merchant,” Dr Christian said. “I didn't know that when I was growing up.”
Dr Christian is speaking at 6.30pm in St Paul Centennial Hall on Liverpool's historic involvement in slavery — and slavery's effect on the present day.
“I have to stay in the historical aspect — but as a teacher I know you can't divorce the past from the present, so there will be some element of contemporary conditions as well,” he said.
Explained ADHT chairman Maxine Esdaille: “For us, the perspective isn't just talking about slavery then and its impact now. It's about what slavery was and what it is 400 years later.”
It is also a fundraising event for the ADHT Bermuda Foundation: tonight's lecture is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors — and free for children under 16.
The lectures continue tomorrow with Femi Bada talking about the impact of slavery on Africa, and Clarence Maxwell on Thursday night on the Bermudian experience of slavery.
Although structural racism and white privilege are elements of slavery's legacy, Dr Christian said he saw no use in provoking white guilt.
“What I say to whites is that without the progressive white element, blacks of different countries around the world would not have gained what they have today,” he said.