Designed to bring about awareness of the global impact of the transatlantic slave trade, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition was established Aug. 23, 1998.
According UNESCO, the occasion, offers an opportunity for reflective “consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.”
As part of UNESCO’s intercultural flagship project, “The Slave Route,” the commemoration provides activities across the globe focusing on what French historian Jean-Michel Deveau described as one of "the greatest tragedies in the history of humanity in terms of scale and duration."
This date also pays tribute to those who worked hard to abolish the slave trade and slavery throughout the world with an estimated more than 12.5 million Africans who were enslaved in the Americas and the Caribbean.The consequences of this tragic violation of human rights still impacts societies across the globe today.
Roots published 40 years ago
This year’s recognition of the abolition of the slave trade also coincides with the anniversary of the publication of Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Published in 1974, the best-selling historical novel garnered the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Considered by many as “the book that changed America,” Roots is described as “. . . One of the most important books and television series ever to appear, Roots, galvanized the nation, and created an extraordinary political, racial, social and cultural dialogue that hadn’t been seen since the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Haley traces his own roots all the way back to an African village through the life of Kunta Kinte, the protagonist who was taken captive as a young man and sold into slavery. The novel covers two centuries and six generations of Haley’s ancestors. In its unfolding of the horrors of chattel slavery, Haley’s controversial novel generated considerable discussion when it was first published and that conversation continues to today forty years later.
Take a look at this related article "Aug 23: Remembering the transatlantic slave trade" with an accompanying slide show of sites in West Africa, including the infamous "Door of No Return."