Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, has today announced the Labour Party’s plans to establish a new Slavery Educational Trust under the next Labour government.
The next Labour government would provide a grant for a new Slavery Educational Trust. Interested groups would have to bid for the government contract to secure the funding in order to set up the new charity, which would be run by an individual charity or a collective.
Dawn Butler MP, as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, will lead on the project.
It is estimated about 12.5 million people were transported and enslaved from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean between the 16th century and 1807. It is expected the role of the new body will be not only to educate people about the horrors of slavery and the slave trade, focussing on the African slave trade, but just as important to educate generations of the great strength and resilience of those enslaved the wealth and beauty of Africa and the Caribbean and recognise those who fought against slavery and acknowledge the debt owed.
Expected projects by the new body could include school programmes, visits to historical sites, visits to the International Slavery Museum and other activities.
Labour will consult on the structure and detail of the new body with businesses, charities, academics and others with interest and knowledge in the slave trade while Labour is in Opposition, with a view to having the application process ready as soon as Labour is in government.
Separately, the next Labour government would look into the issue of reparations. Victims of slavery and their descendants never received any kind of compensation for the crimes committed against them, while slave owners received huge financial compensation.
Labour will consult with businesses and banks, particularly institutions with historic links to the slave trade, about the ways in which they can give back to the black, Asian and minority ethnic community – the primary descendants to victims of the Atlantic slave trade. This could include, for example, sponsoring bursaries for underrepresented groups in society to work in these institutions.
Dawn Butler, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities and MP for Brent Central, said:
“I welcome our plans for a Slavery Educational Trust. Slavery is an abhorrent crime and it is important that the African slave trade and the role of Britain is never forgotten and that we learn the lessons. It is also vital that we remember the great tales of resilience of those enslaved, the resistance of people in society to slavery and the inspirational people involved in the abolition movement, and I’m pleased that this body will be able to do this and teach our young people about this dark time in history.
The legacy of slavery is still felt throughout society, particularly by Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in this country who still face deep inequality and discrimination. This new body will go some way to addressing this historic injustice and I look forward to working with groups to get this up and running under a Labour government, and to discussing ways in which organisations can tackle the underrepresentation of our diverse communities.”