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The letter below, sent to the Prime Minister, asks the British Government for a formal apology for Slavery and a memorial day on August 23rd. Add your support by signing the letter.
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Dear Mr. Blair
We are writing to you to request that the British government formally and fully apologise for Britain’s role in the enslavement, brutality and murder of millions of Africans as a result of the slave trade. In addition we are calling for you to announce a national slavery memorial day on the 23rd August every year. This date marks the beginning of the end of slavery as a result of the defeat of the French and then the British armies in Haiti by the great African freedom fighter Toussaint L’Ouverture.
To paraphrase Professor Stuart Hall the apology is not about guilt tripping contemporary Britain, but it is important that people know about what actually happened, its long lasting legacy and can take a cue from singular leadership to demonstrate that saying sorry and meaning it, goes a long way in healing. It must acknowledge the psychological and physical damage to millions of British Caribbean people and commemorate a history of resistance. It is important that this nation acknowledges the fact that the roots of modern day racism and discrimination is firmly located in the religious, philosophical, scientific and economic arguments that were developed to justify the enslavement of, and trade in, Africans
There are British precedents for an apology: the Queen apologised to the Maoris and the Prime Minster apologised to the Irish community in relation to the potato famine. Even George Bush has acknowledged slavery as one of the greatest crimes in history. In Ghana African Ashanti Chiefs have formally apologised for their own role in capturing and selling their fellow Africans. There are precedents in memorial days especially for example the national Holocaust memorial day.
To quote Lord Herman Ouseley, patron of the 1990 Trust:
After the abolition of the slave trade, the Slave Compensation Commission paid the equivalent of £2 billion at today’s prices, to compensate planters, slave traders and slave owners for the abolition. NOTHING was ever awarded to a former slave. The effects of hundreds of years of genocide and barbarism are still prevalent today. For us to move on with understanding, dignity, respect and knowledge of what happened, the government should follow the lead given by some others and fully apologise for Britain’s role in the slave trade while positively promoting commemoration, memorial, education and reconciliation.
David Weaver on behalf of the 1990 Trust team
[Editor’s Note: As of May 25, 510 signatures had been gathered on this website.]
(Posted on May 25, 2007)