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Announcing Events and Activities in 2007 for 200th Anniversary of Abolition of the U.S. and British Slave Trade

Contact: Sheila Weber, 646-322-6853, sheila@wilberforcecentral.org

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 /Christian Newswire/ --  WilberforceCentral.Org announces forthcoming events and activities now planned for the 200th Anniversary of the abolition of the British and the American slave trade. (www.wilberforcecentral.org) The British Act was approved by Royal Assent on March 25, 1807 and the U.S. Act was signed by President Thomas Jefferson on March 2, 1807.  Wilberforce Central is a coalition formed to introduce the media and the American public to the numerous events surrounding the bicentenary of the end of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, with particular focus on the inspiration and impact that 18th century British parliamentarian William Wilberforce brought to that historic accomplishment.

The importance highlighting the bicentennial anniversary is underscored by a recent survey of 1,000 plus adults in Britain conducted in September 2006 on the issues of slavery and abolition, which revealed the need for more public education on the issue:

"There is some limited awareness of the significance of the 2007 in relation to the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Act, and one in ten can name the exact year when the act was [established.] However, few people are able to identify prominent abolitionists from a list, indicating that although there is a basis upon which to build awareness for next year's bicentenary, there is some way to go to raise awareness and knowledge in this area. Results also reveal the public's limited understanding of what slavery in the 21st century involves. Even the most widely recognized form of modern slavery, trafficking for sexual exploitation is identified by only 35% of people.”  Full report at  http://www.setallfree.net/downloads/mori_report.pdf

Calendar of Major Events in 2007

January 2007

January 19-21. Wilberforce Weekend: A Look at World Changing Faith, sponsored by the Trinity Forum at the Osprey Point Retreat and Conference Center, Royal Oak, Maryland.  Registration at http://www.ttf.org/index/academy/events-detail/wilberforce-weekend/

February 2007

February 15th, 4:30 p.m. Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University
A Colony of Citizens Book Talk and Discussion with the Author

Laurent Dubois, Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University, discusses his 2005 Frederick Douglass Prize-winning book A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804, which positions events in Guadeloupe within a larger framework and suggests the complex fruits of emancipation in the French Caribbean and the Atlantic World. http://www.yale.edu/glc/events/index.htm

February 23rd. Bristol Bay Productions releases motion picture “Amazing Grace” in U.S. theaters, starring Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce and Albert Finney as John Newton.  See www.amazinggracemovie.com

February 23-24th: The Victoria & Albert Museum will be holding a two-day conference: From Cane Field to Tea-Cup: The Impact of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade on Art, to commemorate the 1807 anniversary. The conference will look at the links between the trade, slaves and slavery and the production and collection of domestic and decorative artifacts, including furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, sculpture, architecture, prints and paintings. (dates to be determined)  Also currently on display: Asante Goldweights from Ghana (Metalware, Room 116) which mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade and 50 years of independence of Ghana.  www.vam.ac.uk/

March 2007

Bristol Bay Productions releases motion picture “Amazing Grace” in theaters in the United Kingdom, starring Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce and Albert Finney as John Newton. (U.K. date to be determined)  See www.amazinggracemovie.com

BBC – season of programs on BBC channels on the abolition of slave trade. www.bbc.co.uk

Series of British Commemorative Stamps to go into circulation. www.royalmailgroup.com

William Wilberforce’s famous abolitionist speech to Parliament, along with other selected texts, will be performed in central London, sponsored by the Commission for Racial Equality.  www.cre.gov.uk

March 5, 6, and 7th. Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University.  Principles and Agents: The British Slave Trade and its Abolition. The Third Annual David Brion Davis Lecture Series on the History of Slavery, Race, and Their Legacies.  P. David Richardson, Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation presents a three-part lecture series commemorating the 200th anniversary of the British abolition of the slave trade. Monday, March 5: lecture and opening reception at the Beinecke Mezzanine, "Growth and Expansion of the British Slave Trade, 1660-1807." Tuesday, March 6: lecture location TBD, "African Agency in the Slave Trade." Wednesday, March 7: lecture location TBD, "Ideology, Politics, and British Abolitionism, c.1780-1807." http://www.yale.edu/glc/events/index.htm

March 25th (Anniversary of Abolition of Slavery in Britain) 
Birmingham Bicentenary Sunday Service
, led by the Council of Black Led Churches, organized by Birmingham Churches Together, at 6 p.m. in the Bethel Convention Center, West Bromwich, England. Seating reservations needed. Contact: dking@christian-aid.org

March 25th: Grand re-opening of Wilberforce House Museum. The historic home of William Wilberforce is being upgraded and all new exhibitions will be introduced. The Council owned Wilberforce House Museum, the first Museum in Britain to tackle the subject of Slavery and Abolition, is 100 years old in 2006 and was last updated in 1983 (for the 150th Anniversary of Emancipation). New displays expanding the history of slavery, the role of Wilberforce and contemporary issues relating to the subject of slavery are all dealt with in the new development. Contact vanessa.salter@hullcc.uk

March 25th: Freedom Day – not just as a celebration of history, but a moment to be inspired by the champions of history of the past to help us fight for freedom from the bondage of slavery through people trafficking.  http://www.stopthetraffik.org/freedomday

March 27th. National Commemorative Service at Westminster Abbey at 12 noon.  Invitation only; sponsored by Set All Free. www.setallfree.net ; www.westminster-abbey.org

May 2007

TELEVISION RELEASE for documentary film The Better Hour. William Wilberforce: A Man of Character Who Changed the World.  (Date to be determined) www.thebetterhour.com

May 16-19. Conference at the University of Hull on the “Unfinished Business of Slavery.” Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in England. http://www.hull.ac.uk/wise/2007.html

July 2007

Breaking the Chains Walkathon- communities all over the UK will walk to show their respect to those men, women and children that lived and died in bondage. http://www.blackhistoryfoundation.com/

August 2007

August 8-12: Major international conference in Ghana, West Africa. Co-sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University (http://www.yale.edu/glc/) as well as the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at University of Hull in England http://www.hull.ac.uk/wise/2007.html  among many other groups. More information on the conference can be found at http://www.wm.edu/oieahc/conferences/ghana/callpaper.cfm.

Museum Activities – A number of museums in the U.S. and U.K. will have exhibits on slavery in 2007 including – see www.wilberforcecentral.org/wfc/Museums/index.htm

Coalition members in WilberforceCentral.org include: 

  • Wilberforce University, the first black university in America 
  • The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University 
  • Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in England 
  • Walden Media, which recently produced the successful film "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe," and will be releasing through Bristol Bay Production on February 23, 2007 "Amazing Grace," a motion picture on the life of William Wilberforce; 
  • The Wilberforce Project, sponsor of www.wilberforcecentral.org.
  • Set All Free, a coalition of churches in England focused on the abolition of modern slavery 
  • The Wilberforce House Museum, a project on Wilberforce and the Transatlantic Slave-Trade, with a new focus on the African perspective and contemporary themes; 
  • The Wilberforce Forum, a division of Prison Fellowship that focuses on issues which Wilberforce would be concerned with today, ranging from physical slavery in the Sudan to conditions in prisons around the world 
  • The Trinity Forum, an educational organization that hosts meetings for business leaders in the United States, Europe and Asia on such issues as character and philanthropy.

WilberforceCentral.org allows for other groups to join and participate with self-registry of their events as a "Co-operating Group."