"This year’s Day of Remembrance pays particular tribute to the many women who suffered and died during the slave trade. ... Women slaves played a key role in maintaining the dignity of their communities. Too often their leadership and brave resistance have been underestimated or forgotten."
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history.
Every year on 25 March, the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
In order to more permanently honour the victims, a memorial has been erected at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The unveiling took place on 25 March 2015. The winning design for the memorial, The Ark of Return by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent, was selected through an international competition and announced in September 2013.
2015 Theme: "Women and Slavery"
This year’s theme, “Women and Slavery pays tribute to the many enslaved women who endured unbearable hardships, including sexual exploitation, as well as those who fought for freedom from slavery and advocated for its abolition. The theme also celebrates the strength of enslaved women, many of whom succeeded in transmitting their African culture to their descendants despite the many abuses that they had to endure.
It is estimated that one third of the approximately 15 million people who were deported from Africa through the Transatlantic Slave Trade were women. Enslaved women carried a triple burden. In addition to enduring the harsh conditions of forced labour as a slave, they experienced extreme forms of discrimination and exploitation as a result of their gender and the colour of their skin.
Tours of the Permanent Memorial
Tours of the Permanent Memorial will be discontinued for the period of the 2015 General Assembly from 30 September. The next tour will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday 7 October.
Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Centennial Annual Conference
From 23 to 27 September, the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme will be briefing the ASALH Centennial Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA, in partnership with the National Park Service, Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Programme Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Programme.
Panel Discussion "Truth: Women, Creativity and Memory of Slavery"
The United Nations Remember Slavery Programme in partnership with Fordham University will hold a roundtable discussion, Truth: Women, Creativity and Memory of Slavery on 5 October 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Fordham University School of Law, 150 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023. The panel will explore the many ways enslaved women throughout the African diaspora used their artistic voice to express themselves, endure trials, and survive - and to liberate both themselves and their people. The panel will also examine what these incredible women can teach the contemporary world about the experiences of slavery and the emancipating power of creativity.
Screening of the film “Queen Nanny Legendary Maroon Chieftainess”
In partnership with the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations, the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme will host the Premiere screening of “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroons Chieftainess” by Roy T. Anderson on 19 October 2015 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in ECOSOC Chamber. This documentary film will shed light on the warrior chieftainess of the Jamaican Maroons, who led a band of former enslaved Africans in the rugged mountains of Jamaica to a decisive victory over the British army during the early to mid-18th century.
New UN Radio interview about the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade:
Join the free weekly briefing (20 minutes) at the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, organised by the Remember Slavery Programme, every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. starting on Wednesday 3 June 2015.
Briefings are free to attend and no advance reservation is needed. Tours begin 1st Avenue and 46th Street in the UN Visitors Plaza. For more information, please contact the UN Visitors Centre
In 2015, in addition to the formal annual observance of the International Day, during the week of 25 March, a series of worldwide commemorative activities are planned throughout the year. Events include a solemn ceremony at the UN, film screenings, cultural events, discussion series and exhibitions both at the UN and in other countries. The programme is constantly being updated and details will be available soon.