“Responding to the disparity between those who profited and those who were beaten and tormented is the obligation of any just society.” — Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson gave the keynote lecture last week at the United Nations and addressed the global implications of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the obligations of nations and cultural institutions to do more to confront this painful history. The convening was titled “Beyond Colonial Histories” and signaled a major effort by the UN on slavery.
The lecture and panel discussion concluded a series of events sponsored by a United Nations program established by the General Assembly in 2006 to remember and confront the legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery.
The focus of this year’s remembrance is fighting slavery’s legacy of racism through education.
“The police violence that we see today, the bigotry that we see today, the presumption that someone in a Starbucks is doing something wrong when they’re just drinking their coffee—all of these things are manifestations of a narrative struggle that I believe we have to engage,” Bryan Stevenson said in an interview with UN News. “And that’s where culture, and art, and museums, and every institution in the world can play a role.”
Between 1501 and 1867, nearly 13 million African people were kidnapped, forced onto European and American ships, and trafficked across the Atlantic Ocean to be enslaved, abused, and forever separated from their homes, families, and cultures.