The lack of knowledge and understanding about the history of Africa, the repercussion of slavery and what it meant for Britain is less well known. Consequently it is important that the subject is seen in the context of the bigger picture. This is the legacy our generation can leave a pride strong and brave' for all they achieved both before and during the era of trans-Atlantic slavery, the legacy they left which is all around us today and hope for the future.
Whilst the Memorial will be seen as a tribute to the courage and dignity of all those who were enslaved and their struggle for freedom, it will also be an educational landmark imparting knowledge and understanding to all who visit it.
The Memorial will also be an important educational tool to present and future generations whatever their ethnic origin. This is everyone’s history as we are all the beneficiaries of enslaved Africans labour although it will have a particular resonance for those of African heritage. The eminent academic, Professor Gus John said ‘If children are not encouraged to develop a sense of history … they cannot develop an appreciation of how they can empower themselves to make a difference, to contribute to society to the fullness of their potential and to claim their own place in history.
This memorial will be an educational resource as the focus of curriculum based and life long learning. The actor Ray Fearon spoke eloquently at our launch last December of how as a young boy his overwhelming experience of British History lessons was of the absence and indeed exclusion of the story of his own family past. It is exactly this sort of absence that educational reform campaigners, whose Black pupils frequently ask 'where is our History?', have been seeking to address. A permanent memorial, functioning as a site for physical visits and as a reference point in teaching, will aid in the process of inclusion and empowerment by redressing the balance. It will also serve within a broader context to highlight in a national and public setting the centrality of the experience of slaves and their descendants in the history of Britain. This in turn will function as a focus for family and local history researchers and for events such as Black History Month.