BLACK VOICES

Historic Event In London Honors 'International Slavery Remembrance Day'

“This is the first ever memorial service for the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to be held in Trafalgar Square."

08/24/2016 14:20 EDT | Updated 08/25/2016 10:17 EDT

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in London, England, Sunday for what was billed by organizers as the city’s first-ever memorial honoring victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The demonstration, which was filled with black faces and raised fists, was put together by an organization called Slavery Remembrance. It took place in London’s bustling Trafalgar Square two days before Aug. 23, which was International Slavery Remembrance Day. The United Nations first kicked off the day of remembrance in 2014 as a way to mark the abolition of slavery and acknowledge the causes and consequences of the devastating trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“This is the first ever memorial service for the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to be held in Trafalgar Square,” Shezal Laing, one of the organizers of the event said in a video by German news site, Ruptly. “This day passes by largely unnoticed, and most people are unaware that the day exists.”

Dozens of London’s black residents, musical performers, poets and activists gathered Sunday to speak out against slavery, celebrate freedom and highlight the importance of the world’s collective black history. 

British musician and activist Akala performed at the event and spoke to Ruptly about why “ancestor worship” and “remembrance of the past” in England is so crucial.

“When black people remember their victimhood at the hands of the British Empire and colonial slavery, apparently they should get over it and it’s all in the past,” he said. “Even when the legacies of said brutality are still here with racism and police brutality and mass incarceration and things of that nature.”

Organizers said they hope Sunday’s demonstration is only the start of something that will continue to grow. 

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