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Freedom Talks: Black Lives Matter and Slavery

presented by  Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

June 7 marks the one year anniversary of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol being torn from its perch.

That event was part of a world-wide series of protests about racial injustice that were highlighted under the broad rubric of Black Lives Matter. These events do not just have a contemporary resonance. They influence how scholars of slavery and emancipation write about their topics.

This forum explores how the study of slavery in the past intersects with the concerns of Black Lives Matter, broadly conceived. It arises from an approach by Trevor Burnard, Director of the Wilberforce Institute to Gad Heuman, editor of the leading academic journal in the field, to produce a forum on Black Lives Matter and Slavery.

This forum comes out in the June 2021 issue of this journal. It contains an introduction by Trevor Burnard and three outstanding essays by distinguished historians of slavery – Matthew Smith of University College, London; Tyler Parry of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Daina Ramey Berry of the University of Texas.

They look at post-traumatic stress disorder and slavery; `soul values’ as a mechanism whereby enslaved people dealt with the trauma of enslavement; and the changing politics around the erection of statues celebrating black lives in Jamaica. Together, these presentations illustrate how the politics of the present help us formulate new ways of thinking about how we look at slavery and emancipation in the past and how scholars can make a difference in debates over an urgent modern problem – the legacies of slavery in the present and continuing structural racism. 

This film is available to watch until 5 September

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