Honouring the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Monday, 01 April 2019

Monday, 1 April 2019 | New York | Department of Global Communications (DGC) 

The Department of Global Communications’ Remember Slavery Programme marked the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade with a series of events in New York held under the theme “Remember Slavery: The Power of the Arts for Justice”.

On 21 March, the programme opened an exhibit in the Visitors Lobby titled “From Africa to the New World: Slavery in New York”, which highlighted little-known facts about slavery in New York City.

Speaking on behalf of the African Burial Ground National Monument, historian Michael Frazier noted that, by 1703, New York had the largest colonial slave population outside of Charleston, South Carolina, and by 1756, Africans made up 25% of the population of the city.

On 25 March, the General Assembly held a commemorative meeting to mark the international day.  Keynote speaker Christopher Cozier, an artist from Trinidad and Tobago, explained how the history of slavery has impacted his art. An interview with him will soon be posted at UN News.

That evening, the diplomatic community and staff celebrated the rich culture of Africa and the African diaspora with a culinary and cultural event. Twenty-one Member States donated regional food and drinks, which were enjoyed to a backdrop of Afro-Caribbean music, deejayed by staff member Serge Tiendrebeogo.

The week concluded with a briefing to civil society entitled “The Role of Memorials in Preserving History”. The briefing focused on the African Burial Ground National Monument, Mémorial ACTe in Guadeloupe and the United Nations Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

A representative from the Gorée Mémorial spoke about Senegal’s plan to build a memorial to honour the victims lost to the transatlantic slave trade.

Youth speaker and artist Noah J Brown spoke about his work and exploration of the cross-generational trauma of slavery.

In addition to events held at UNHQ, 21 UN information centres across the globe organized 55 activities, such as student briefings, film screenings and exhibits.

The Remember Slavery programme, managed by the Education Outreach Section, provided the UNICs with educational materials in all six UN official languages, plus Kiswahili and Portuguese.