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Freedom Talks: Slavery and Kingston Upon Hull 

presented by Dr Nicholas Evans & Professor Trevor Burnard Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull.

Whilst most scholars have long recognised that the pervasive nature of Atlantic slavery reached far beyond the Atlantic basin, towns and cities associated with slavery have largely been framed as either proslavery or antislavery in nature. However, such labelling is problematic.

As the recent work by Kate Donnington has shown, even specific buildings associated with British abolitionists such as Holy Trinity Church in Clapham and the surrounding Clapham Common, were inhabited both by supporters and opponents of slavery in Georgian Britain.

The port town and later the city of Kingston upon Hull has always been associated with antislavery as the birth place of William Wilberforce, and for the support its residents gave to the abolition of the slave trade, the foundation of Sierra Leone, and later the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, but this did not prevent it being embroiled in slavery before, during and after British abolitionism.

In the light of the #BlackLivesMatter debates of 2020, this presentation seeks to engage with Hull’s ties to slavery between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and ask why the city has exhibited amnesia toward less palatable aspects of its past.

This film is available to watch until 5 September

“People from Hull are rightly proud of the city’s links to William Wilberforce. Yet less is known about either our direct or indirect links to slavery. In this Freedom Debate we begin a conversation about this lesser known story.” Dr Nicholas Evans

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