London will now hold an annual day to commemorate the abolition of the slave trade following an extremely moving remembrance memorial service, held at London’s City Hall, on Thursday (23rd August).
I joined other Black Londoners, among them poets, MPs, Christians, Muslims, African dancers, journalists, and drummers, to hear Mayor Ken Livingstone formally apologise, on London’s behalf, for the part our city played in the transatlantic slave trade.
Words cannot describe how moving the whole chamber found Mayor Ken Livingstone’s speech and tribute to the victims and descendents of the transatlantic slave trade.
Ken reminded us why slavery was the biggest wicked evil the world had ever seen; 12 million African people were forcibly dragged from their homelands and beaten, castrated, lynched, raped, burnt, and hung in cages alive until they thirst to death – their dignity and humanity stripped from their entire being.
Such was the emotion the Mayor felt, he genuinely broke down at several points during his speech. This in turn provoked tears from those gathered in the chamber.
After Ken’s formal apology for London’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, he was joined by Mme. Françoise Riviere Assistant Director General for Culture from UNESCO (pictured above right with Ken), to sign a formal declaration committing London to holding an annual memorial day, to fall on the 23rd of August, which is the UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
Over a special lunch after the memorial service, I got to catch up with Chief Guest of Honour Jesse Jackson (pictured with me above), MP Diane Abbott, writer and poet Ben Okri, and many other distinguished guests from London’s Black community, who had also been invited.
Jesse Jackson’s currently over in Britain for the Equanomics coalition’s ‘Economics of Colour‘ tour, which seeks to highlight the economic contribution of Black and Minority ethnic communities in the UK past and present and develop more economic analyses and approaches to equality in the UK (click here for more info).
It was lovely to see Jesse again since he was last over in June. He is always inspiring and I have learnt a lot from meeting and listening to his warm words of advice on both the occasions we’ve now spoken.
Thanks again, Mayor Ken, for continuing to be a champion for London’s Black community and giving us a dignified voice through your work.
I was already geared up to hit the streets, to assist the campaign for Ken’s re-election next year, and Thursday’s historic memorial service, to commemorate the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, has made me even more determined to do so.