Month: December 2018

African American Activist Walking Tour – December 6th 2018 – 6.00pm – London

Frederick Douglass

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

Digital Project Launch: Legacies on Display

Today (3rd December 2018) marks the launch of our newest digital project. ‘Legacies on Display: Slavery in Museums’ is a showcase of museums around the world that engage with and interpret slavery in their permanent displays. The first of its kind, the collection brings these institutions together using an interactive map.

Museums are exciting places to see the ‘usable past’ in action. They bring together objects, people and places, and prompt discussions unable to be had elsewhere in our communities. The aims of the ‘Legacies on Display’ collection were to create a resource for researchers, and the general public, that physically locates museums that permanently interpret slavery in their displays and exhibitions, as well as to raise the profile of the museums themselves. It also provides a wider insight into how museums in different places engage with the subject of slavery- what objects do they have? What are the key themes that they identify? Who’s voices feature in the display? The collection also provides an opportunity to reflect on the role of the twenty-first-century museum; specifically in how museums address challenging histories and their legacies in the contemporary world.

Each museum is listed with a description about the organisation and its displays, including its collections and narratives. These were researched using a combination of site visits and desk-based analysis. Key findings from the collection show a geographic spread of ‘slavery museums’ across six continents, and include a range of institutions; from renovated slave forts in West Africa, former plantations in America and purpose-built national institutions in the Caribbean, to port city museums in the UK. There are different forms of slavery covered, across five hundred years of history to the present day. There is a significant number of museums around the Atlantic world (Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas) that focus on transatlantic slavery and its legacies. Another notable finding is the disparity of resources amongst museums, particularly between those in lesser economically developed countries and those not, specifically in terms of their online presence.

Highlights from the collection include:

  • Wilberforce House Museum, Hull, UK– The world’s oldest slavery museum and home of Britain’s most famous abolitionist, William Wilberforce.
  • The National Museum of African American History, Washington D.C, USA- Described by its director Dr Lonnie Bunch as ‘a museum for all Americans,’ the museum firmly embeds the history of slavery with the development of the USA as a nation.
  • Bin Jelmood House, Doha, Qatar- The only museum in the Arab world that addresses slavery, with a particular focus on the enslavement of people across the Middle East.
  • House of Slaves, Gorée Island, Senegal- A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the renovated former slave fort features the poignant ‘door of no return’ through which enslaved Africans were forced onto ships bound for the Americas or the Caribbean.
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, Ontario, Canada- The museum is located on the site where the Rev. Josiah Henson set up a settlement for the many fugitives from slavery in the USA who fled to Canada. Harriet Beecher Stowe based her protagonist, Uncle Tom, on Henson.

The collection is fully searchable via the interactive map, or key words such as the name of the museum or the country in which it is located. Each museum is also tagged with key themes that can be searched, in addition to any organisations it may be involved in, such as the Federation of International Human Rights Museums, or the International Coalition for Sites of Conscience.

To browse the collection in full visit:

If you have any queries, comments or suggestions for additional museums contact