African American Activist Walking Tour by Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray, University of Nottingham
Thu 6 December 2018 – 18:00 – 19:30 GMT
Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street. London, WC2B 5AZ
“It is my mission to give to the world the black people’s side of the story.”
So Ida B. Wells said to a Leeds audience in 1893. In this incredible and iconic statement, Wells represented the sentiment of hundreds of African Americans who travelled to Britain to campaign against slavery, racism and lynching from the 1830s to the late 1890s. Many individuals sought temporary reprieve from American soil, others permanent; some raised money to free themselves or enslaved family members, and others sought work with varying degrees of success. Black men and women lectured in large cities and tiny fishing villages, wrote and published narratives, stayed with influential reformers and ensured millions of words were written about them in the newspapers.
Whatever their reasons for visiting, black activists exhibited whips and chains (and sometimes even their scars); read runaway slave advertisements from southern newspapers; created visual Panoramas, and used fiery rhetoric to tell their stories. It is therefore unsurprising that British newspaper editors littered their reports with accounts of formerly enslaved individuals as well as their speeches, adverts for their narratives, and their letters to editors. From the John O’Groat Journal to the Royal Cornwall Gazette, Victorian Britons followed the movements of black Americans from the 1830s until decades after American slavery had ended, often cramming into tiny churches or town halls to curb an insatiable appetite for details about life in slavery.
Join me on a walking tour that will take you to six sites where black activists made an important impact on the central London landscape, including:
– Freemason’s Hall, where numerous activists such as Frederick Douglass and Josiah Henson lectured about slavery
– Somerset House, where Martin Delany made his famous declaration in front of royalty, “I am a MAN!”
– Holborn Town Hall, where Ida B. Wells lectured on lynching and female suffrage.
Meet on the steps at Freemason’s Hall for a 6pm start. The walk is free, and will last roughly an hour and a half. We won’t be walking more than 1.5 miles max but please wear comfortable shoes!
Any questions, please don’t hesitate to email the leader of the tour, Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray, at firstname.lastname@example.org