THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE: ‘FOREVER FREE – CELEBRATING EMANCIPATION’ TO BE HIGHLIGHTED IN SERIES OF ACTIVITIES AT HEADQUARTERS
NEW YORK, March 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The sixth annual commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade will be observed at United Nations Headquarters under the theme “Forever Free — Celebrating Emancipation”, from Monday, 18 March to Monday, 25 March. This year tribute will be paid to the emancipation of slaves in nations around the world. 2013 is particularly important with many key anniversaries, including 220 years since France’s General Emancipation decree liberated all slaves in present-day Haiti; 180 years since the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 ended slavery in Canada, the British West Indies and the Cape of Good Hope; and 170 years since the Indian Slavery Act of 1843 was signed. Slavery was also abolished 165 years ago in France; 160 years ago in Argentina; 150 years ago in the Dutch colonies; and 125 years ago in Brazil.
2013 is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, which declared that, on 1 January 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free. Original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, and of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, will be on display in the United Nations Visitors’ Lobby during the commemorative week.
The following events will take place at United Nations Headquarters:
NGO Briefing — Monday, 18 March: The weekly NGO (non-governmental organization) briefing will take place in the ECOSOC Chamber, North Lawn Building, from 10:15 a.m. — 12:15 p.m. Panellists will participate in a discussion on the theme “Forever Free — Celebrating Emancipation”. Featured panellists include historian and writer Eric Foner, Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University, author of The Fiery Trial, Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery; Anne Bailey, Associate Professor of African American History, African Diaspora Studies and African History, Binghamton University; and Françoise Vergès, President of the French National Comité pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage (2008-2012). The briefing will also include a short presentation of La Fraternité, the educational ship project by Dieudonné Boutrin and Daniel Proust and will be webcast live.
Global Student Videoconference — Tuesday, 19 March: In Conference Room 4, North Lawn Building, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., a global video conference will bring together students from secondary educational institutions in five countries — France, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and the United States. This live interactive forum will aim to get a better understanding of the meaning of emancipation; consider the legacy of slavery and its link to racism and prejudice; and discuss concrete actions that can be taken to address this problem. The video conference will be webcast live.
Film Screening — Wednesday, 20 March: The United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations will host a screening of the movie Lincoln, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The film will be introduced by Oscar nominated screenwriter Tony Kushner. By invitation only.
Presentation and Book Signing — Thursday, 21 March: 4:30 to 6 p.m.
§ Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery (2012) will be discussed by its co-authors: Deborah Willis, University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University; and Barbara Krauthamer, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst
§ Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence (2012) will be presented by its author, Alan Gilbert, John Evans Professor of History, University of Denver.
Cultural and Culinary Evening – Thursday, 21 March: Beginning at 6 p.m., in the Visitors’ Lobby, this event will include a poetry recital, a dance performance, and the reception for the Forever Free — Celebrating Emancipation exhibit.
§ The poetry recital will honour the 100th anniversary of the birth of Aimé Césaire. It is organized in cooperation with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and Bureau de la Martinique. Françoise Vergès, President of the French National Comité pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage (2008-2012), will introduce the Recital. The recital includes:
o Poetry readings by Ezra Mabengeza, Roxane Revon, Carole Alexis, and Christel Coita
o Music performance by Yacouba Sissoko (Kora player)
o Dance performance by Ballet des Amériques
o Screening of video excerpts from Aimé Césaire: une voix pour l’histoire, by Euzhan Palcy
§ Display of kanga fabrics from East Africa
§ Video presenting La Fraternité, the educational ship project
§ Culinary displays
§ The exhibition Forever Free — Celebrating Emancipation comprises panels retracing the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, presenting heroes and activists, the fight for emancipation, and the legacy of slavery today. Original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward, and of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, will also be on display during the commemorative week, 18-25 March. This special display is made possible by the generosity of Mr. Lawrence Benenson. The exhibition is free and open to the public from 11 February — 26 March 2013.
Concert — Friday, 22 March: A concert will take place in the General Assembly, which will include performances by Benyoro, Steel Pulse, Somi and UNESCO Artist for Peace nominee Marcus Miller.
Meeting of the General Assembly — Monday, 25 March: A special commemorative meeting of the General Assembly to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (25 March) will be convened by the General Assembly President and take place at 3 p.m. in the General Assembly Hall. Statements will be made by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and regional group chairs. The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Ali Mazrui, Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies (IGCS), and Albert Schweitzer, Professor in the Humanities, Binghamton University. In 2005, the American journal Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.) and the British Journal Prospect (London) nominated Ali Mazrui among the top 100 public intellectuals alive in the world as a whole.
A selection of images and materials is available for download on the Remembrance website at http://rememberslavery.un.org.
Accredited correspondents are invited to cover the events in observance of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.