Slavery and abolition

12 May 2019

Find out about the transatlantic slave trade, get hands on with objects in our abolition collection and discover incredible freedom fighters who campaigned to end slavery.

For more than 2,000 years people in many different parts of the world have forced their fellow humans into slavery. Between about 1500 and 1900, Europeans forcibly uprooted millions of people from throughout West Africa and West Central Africa and shipped them across the Atlantic in conditions of great cruelty. To refer to the Africans who were enslaved only as ‘slaves’ strips them of their identity. They were, for instance, farmers, merchants, priests, soldiers, goldsmiths and musicians. They were husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. They could be Yoruba, Igbo, Akan or Kongolese.

European slavers dispersed them across the Americas to lead lives of degradation and brutality, without thought for their personal lives. Millions died in the process. As a result, people of African descent are spread throughout the Americas and Western Europe. This is called the African Diaspora.

Slavery and the slave trade

 

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