In the 1820s, the campaigner Elizabeth Heyrick became actively involved in door-to-door visits in Leicester in support of the anti-slavery cause and sugar boycotts. Her pamphlet ‘Immediate not gradual Abolition’ went into three editions during the first year of its publication in 1824. This exhibition focused on the life and work of Heyrick and in particular her efforts to abolish slavery. A Family Learning Day included ‘Elizabeth Heyrick’ in costume reading her pamphlet, storytelling, gospel music and an opportunity to sample food that would have been eaten by the enslaved.
This photographic exhibition focused on human trafficking was produced by a partnership of Panos Pictures, Anti-Slavery International, Amnesty International, Eaves and UNICEF. Photographer Karen Robinson’s portraits and tales of women trafficked into prostitution explore the devastating impact on their lives. Also on display were David Rose's panoramic photographs of the ordinary British streets where the stories of modern-day slavery have been played out. The photographs were mounted on a cage-like structure which was specially designed for the exhibition at St Paul's Cathedral. The exhibition was also shown in Edinburgh, Hull and Warsaw, and in 2008, in York.
The Sing Freedom project was based on the Spirituals sung by African peoples as a response to being enslaved. The generally Christian songs often contained instructions about escape and resistance. The project was a collaboration between Kainé Management Group, Leicester African Caribbean Arts Forum, Leicester City Council Arts & Museum Service and Library Service. It included research into the songs, a touring exhibition, and performances. A series of song writing workshops for young people in partnership with BBC Radio Leicester aimed to give each participant an understanding of the effects of slavery and perceptions they have on present day freedom. At Leicester Guildhall Kainé Gospel Choir and friends came together for an evening celebrating the Spirituals, where songs such as The Gospel Train, Wade in the Water and Swing Low Sweet Chariot were sung.
Leicester Libraries collected oral histories from African Caribbean people brought down through the generations from the transatlantic slave trade. Health and healing were essential to slave life, and enslaved Africans developed their own healing knowledge. The Calabash project recorded this secret knowledge by collecting oral histories passed down to descendants of enslaved Africans at workshops and educational sessions.
Leicester's Black History Season in October-November 2007 marked the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. Its aim was to redress the balance from a 'Eurocentric point of view' of abolition, and focus on the Afrikan perspective with the theme of 'Souls of Black Folk'. Musical performances included gospel, Motown, reggae and jazz. Other events in venues across Leicester and Loughborough included traditional South African dance, contemporary dance, performance poetry, comedy, multimedia performances, storytelling, theatre and an exhibition, 'Africa's Gift', focusing on the economic and cultural contributions of the slaves and their descendants.
Crystal Clear Creators is a not-for-profit arts organisation based in the East Midlands. Reflecting on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade enabled a series of community creative writing workshops in Leicester exploring themes of the slave trade. The workshops involved talks from experts in the field, a tour of relevant places of interest, and research at the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Records Office. Those involved then wrote, produced, recorded and broadcast radio dramas on the subject, and held a day of performances for the public. The project was developed with Leicester's Arts forum LACAF and Mainstream Partnership. A follow-on project in 2009-10, Reflections: The Trans-Atlantic Slave-Trade, was a course for young people about the transatlantic slave trade, which included researching and writing about the subject. The project culminated in a day of performances and an exhibition at New Walk Museum.
Freedom Song involved young people from Derby, Leicester and Nottingham creating their own digital musical video shorts to express contemporary social and cultural experiences. The group in Derby looked to develop links to regional history and culture through the study of the songs of oppression and freedom of the slave trade and its musical legacies today. A heritage project involved participants researching music of their ancestors and predecessors in the cultural tradition, exploring the Windrush migrations, oral traditions and the impact of female artists on music cultures in the UK.
Written by Ghanaian playwright Ama Ata Aidoo, The Dilemma of a Ghost deals with colliding cultures in 21st century Africa. An African-American woman accompanies her Ghanaian husband as he returns home, but the couple are haunted by ghosts of the inheritance of the slave trade. A collaboration between London theatre company Border Crossings and the National Theatre of Ghana, the production used music and dance to celebrate 50 years of Ghana’s independence and 200 years since the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. The play was performed in Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, London, Plymouth and Slough. The production was was accompanied by a new book from Border Crossings, working in collaboration with Anti-Slavery International. ‘Theatre and Slavery: Ghosts at the Crossroads’ explored the ways in which world theatre responds to key issues in modern society and politics, including the issue of contemporary slavery.