Today, August 23rd, is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition. The illustration above is of a slave market in Richmond, Virginia.
In America, the slave trade lasted from long before the nation’s founding to 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The horror of the institution is so vast and deep as to be unfathomable- the entire world would bear the scars of that great crime if the wound had ever closed, but it hasn’t yet. And it won’t, until the racist oppression of Black people is ended.
Today is a day of mourning, but it must also be a day to hold up the resistors, those whose names we know and those whose courage and resolve is lost to history. Several are pictured above. In order, they are: Denmark Vesey, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Elizabeth Van Lew (no known images exist of Van Lew’s fellow spy, a Black woman named Mary Bowser), Gabriel, and Nat Turner. In holding them up, we must reaffirm ourselves in the struggle for justice and self-determination for Black people around the world, wherever and whatever form the fight takes!
The Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) is an anarchist support organization. The group is notable for its efforts at providing prisoners with political literature, but it also organizes material and legal support for class struggle prisoners worldwide. It commonly contrasts itself with Amnesty International, which is concerned mainly with prisoners of conscience and refuses to defend those accused of encouraging violence. The ABC openly supports those who have committed illegal activity in furtherance of revolutionary aims that anarchists accept as legitimate.
“We believe, as most Anarchists do, that prisons serve no useful function and should be abolished along with the state. We believe in the abolition of both the prison system and the society which creates it. We believe in direct resistance to achieve a stateless and classless society. We share a commitment to revolutionary Anarchism. We see a real need for Anarchists to bemilitantly organized.”
While scholars have largely accepted the view that race is a socially-constructed concept, the complex processes of its formation are not well understood — in large part because of the wide and diverse range of contributing factors. The fifth international conference of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition will explore the relationship between the enslavement of Africans and the construction of early and modern conceptions of race and racial hierarchies. The conference will bring together scholars of Graeco-Roman and Biblical antiquity, medieval Europe and early Islam, with authorities on Enlightenment, 19th- and early 20th-century European and American racial thought, with the goal of exchanging and combining insights from a wide range of historical periods and disciplines.
Abolition must confront racist, gendered, hetero-sexist, ableist, classist hierarchies of power, the purposeful entanglement of oppressions, and lift up liberatory movements led by the very communities that are targeted for imprisonment and destruction. And as abolitionists, we need to acknowledge the bars and borders we have ourselves internalized and imposed. For me, abolition is about breaking down most of what I know to be true, and learning, living, and fighting for freedom in ways we may have never imagined.
Today is the Int'l Day for the Abolition of Slavery!
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Today in History - August 23 - International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
Since 1998, the UNESCO with many other independent organizations commemorate the slave trade and its abolition with the “International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.” The date was of course not chosen arbitrary. On August 23, 1791, slaves in Northern Saint-Domingue (modern day Haiti) rebelled against their masters and the movement progressed throughout the island. This rebellion soon transformed itself into a Revolution, destroying the ancien régime in Saint-Domingue and securing the establishment of Haiti, the first modern state, in part, born out of a successful slave rebellion.
According to Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UNESCO (quoted from un.org), "the history of the slave trade tells not only of the suffering endured but also of the ultimately victorious struggle for freedom and human rights, symbolized by the slave uprising in Saint-Domingue on the night of 22 to 23 August 1791" (Source).