Evening Talk: Black Sailors in Georgian England

Friday 8 April, 7.00pm-9.00pm

Historian and curator of our current exhibition, Black Georgians, S. I. Martin explores the untold stories of the Black sailor communities that settled in towns and cities around England. From the 16th to the early 20th century sailors of African origin were a principal element of the Royal Navy, and also central to the development of Black communities and Black political thought in Britain.

Black sailors developed the first trans-Atlantic networks, connecting continental Africans to those in the diaspora. The most prominent writers, civil leaders and thinkers, such as Olaudah Equiano, Robert Wedderburn, and Ottobah Cugoano, had usually spent some of their working lives at sea. The Navy, and later on the merchant service, was where free Black labourers had some opportunity of accessing a career structure. Thousands of Black men were found at all levels on the decks of ships, from cook to captain.

The settlement of these sailors in Britain’s port cities led to the development of this country’s first Black communities in London, Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow, and South Shields. Join us for an evening uncovering the stories of these Black sailors of Georgian Britain.

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