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Acton-based Descendants welcomes Mayor of London’s memorial to victims of the slave trade

A new memorial to victims of the slave trade in Docklands, East London has been announced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Acton-based Descendants has welcomed the move.

The charity, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, works with young people with a focus on exploring African and Caribbean culture.

In a statement, about the memorial which will be erected in West India Quay, the Mayor said: “The impact of the slave trade has been felt by generations of Black communities in London, across Britain and around the world. Despite this, we do not have a dedicated memorial in our capital to honour the millions of enslaved people who suffered and died as a result of this barbaric practice. It is vital that our public spaces reflect the heritage of our great city – in all its diversity and complexity. This memorial will help commemorate the victims of a dark, yet formative chapter of our history.”

Welcoming the move, Margaret Noel, founder & director Descendants children’s told EALING.NEWS: “We are encouraged a landmark memorial in remembrance of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade is being erected as it is long overdue! It will serve as a reminder to the wider community that this shameful period needs to be better understood and to take its rightful place in how we reflect on British history.”

The Mayor added: “I want everyone to be able to take pride in our public spaces and by being candid about our history, and its enduring legacy, we are creating a better and fairer London for all.”

Ms Noel said “a memorial dedicated to the victims feels as though (in part) we will be correcting history”.
“We want a more open and honest portrayal of this point in history, the stories of the lives impacted and recognition that it happened. For so long we have lived with statues glorifying our oppressors and slave traders, therefore, to create a memorial dedicated to the victims feels as though (in part) we will be correcting history, commemorating and honouring those who have passed.
“My hope is that they will ask the community for their input with regards to how best to highlight the transatlantic slave trade, that they will involve artists who are deeply connected to the history and that once constructed there will be increased promotion of the landmark memorial so that everyone will know.”

The memorial is being developed in partnership with the Museum of London Docklands and the Canal & River Trust and other community groups and will twll the story of what happened.

Douglas Gilmore, managing Director, Museum of London Docklands, said: “At the Museum of London Docklands, we explore the history of the port, river and city and how these shaped London and the world we live in today. The transatlantic slave trade is intrinsic to this story, and as home to one of only three permanent galleries in the UK dedicated to this history, we’re delighted to be working with the Mayor of London to support educational initiatives around the new memorial.”

Ros Daniels, Canal & River Trust regional director for London & South East, said: “The Transatlantic slave trade is central to the history of London Docklands. Through our charity’s work with the community in Tower Hamlets and our programme of Black History Month events Canal & River Trust has been pleased to be able to play a role in telling that story. We hope this new memorial leads to greater understanding of the human suffering and loss caused by slavery and of its links to London’s waterways.”

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