Slavery & Its Victims To Be Memorialized at UN

Photo Credit: UN/Devra Berkowitz

The new sculpture/memorial is being unveiled on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, March 25, 2015. According to the UN News Centre: “The memorial aims to remind visitors of the complete history of slavery, urging them to acknowledge the tragedy and its legacy, and to heighten awareness of the current dangers of racism, prejudice and slavery’s lingering consequences that continue to impact the descendants of slavery’s victims today.” The message and lessons to be learned perhaps have some relevance in view of today’s events, from Mauritania to Myanmar to Missouri. – See statement posed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in view of killing of black men in Ferguson and Staten Island, with question whether US law enforcement and prisons are embedded with “institutionalized discrimination.” (“Does the UN See US “Institutionalized Discrimination” in the Wake of Ferguson?”)

The Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the UN is entitled “The Ark of Return.” It has been designed by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent. As the UN News Centre notes, “It pays tribute to the courage of slaves, abolitionists and unsung heroes while promoting greater recognition of the contributions made by slaves and their descendants to societies worldwide.” (Also see our previous Post: “Legacy of Police on Black Violence Pre & Post “Selma Bloody Sunday”.)

This year’s theme for the International Day is “Women and Slavery.” It pays tribute to the women victims and to those who fought for freedom from slavery and for its abolition. It also celebrates the strength of enslaved women, who succeeded in transmitting their African culture to their descendants. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon points out that “women slaves played a key role in maintaining the dignity of their communities. Too often their leadership and brave resistance have been underestimated or forgotten.” (See: Slavery & Its Victims to be Memorialized at UN.”)


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