Memorial 2007 Annual Lecture hosted by the ICwS

Seeing is Believing: Memorial as Story. Paterson Joseph will address our national amnesia surrounding Britain's Slavery Past

When a nation forgets its past, it’s painfully easy to forget its sins, too. Paterson will address our national amnesia surrounding Britain’s Slavery Past and tackle the efforts to revise Britain’s history in order to alleviate its guilt in the trade in African flesh.


This ground breaking project will fulfil the aspirations of present and future generations by publicly acknowledging the enforced labour of enslaved Africans who created the wealth that helped to lay the foundations of the Industrial Revolution, the legacy of economic prosperity from which Britain continues to benefit to this day and put the ‘Great’ into Great Britain.

This is everyone’s history and crosses the ethnic divide as all are beneficiaries of their legacy.

The inspiration for this project came from a question raised by a schoolgirl of African heritage who, after a visit to the Tower of London, asked her teacher “Where is our history?”

The answer is that, in Britain, it is not in public view. There is nothing to commemorate the millions of enslaved Africans. Having been wrenched from their family and homeland into a life of slavery. Family life was destroyed yet again when they bought and sold at will, moved from plantation to plantation with families split up. Africans were not seen as human beings but as property.

They were stripped of everything; their dignity, their culture, their language, their names and forced to take names imposed on them by their owners. The family life of Africans was seriously undermined by European enslavers on plantations for more than two centuries.

African men and women lived in an atmosphere that affected love, marriage and relationships with each other. Enslaved women became the strong matriarchs of slave society as they fought to keep their families intact if their husbands were sold off.

A positive reply to that young girl’s question is long overdue. Her words inspired the formation of a voluntary group in 2002 that grew into a registered charity, Memorial 2007. It has two objectives: to educate everyone about the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery and its legacy and to create the first permanent national memorial in Britain to remember those unnamed, enslaved Africans and their descendants.

Date and time: Thu, 28 Sep 2023 18:30 – 20:30 BST

Book Ticket here

Location: Chancellor’s Hall Senate House, University of London Malet St Bloomsbury WC1E 7HU