News Releases

Commemoration of the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade

For Release Upon Receipt - March 23, 2007

St. Augustine

In 2006 the History Department spearheaded the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British trans-Atlantic slave trade in Trinidad and Tobago with an international conference.  At that conference the call was made for the national government, local organizations and cultural groups to join together for national commemoration of this significant international milestone. At the request of Caricom member states, the United Nations has declared 25th of March an international day of commemoration.  The History Department is proud to be a part of a committee established to develop a national programme of activities. 

Thus, building on the base established with its very successful conference in 2006, the History Department will spearhead a series of activities between April 2nd and August 23rd.  The central activity will be a Lecture Series featuring Caribbean Historians, Cultural Activists and Educators. The theme for this series is “Freedom Road”.  Local, regional and international participants will discuss a wide range of topics.  The subjects for discussion include: The Meaning of Freedom, The Atlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans, The Abolition Act, Emancipation and Culture, Education and Emancipation, Emancipation in Trinidad and Tobago. The series will end with reflections on how these commemorative events have tangible and relevant connections in our contemporary society.  Local contributors include Dr. John F Campbell, Dr. Claudius Fergus, Dr. Michael Toussaint, Dr. Gelien Matthews, Professor Bridget Brereton, Dr. Rita Pemberton, Dr. Sandra Gift and Dr. Heather Cateau. Foreign participants include:  Professor James Milltte, Professor Selwyn Carrington, Dr. Fitzroy Baptiste, and Dr. Richard Goodridge. 

The theme “Freedom Road” will be also be the basis for special newspaper supplements from April to August, 2007.  There are also plans to produce two publications specifically focusing on issues pertinent to the Caribbean in general and Trinidad and Tobago in particular.  The first is an electronic publication (both website and CD Rom).  This publication will examine both the abolition the slave trade and the emancipation process. The second publication will be a printed book based on the papers from the commemorative conference held at St. Augustine in 2006.  Another project involves the compilation of education packets to be distributed to schools and libraries.

In addition, in collaboration with the Library at the St. Augustine campus, a themed exhibit will be displayed from 26th March to 7th April and the Eric Williams Memorial Collection will be opened to the public for specific periods, the first being March 26th to March 29th.  It is well known that Eric Williams’ seminal work Capitalism and Slavery dealt with the role of economic factors in the abolition of slave trade and emancipation.  We invite the campus community to join with us through participation in these activities as well as those spearheaded by other groups in the national committee.