|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference to Introduce United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Permanent
Memorial Honouring Victims of Slavery, Transatlantic Slave Trade
Actress and Grammy-nominated singer Melba Moore said at Headquarters today that she would engage the corporate world, the media and fellow celebrities in carrying out her duties as a new United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Permanent Memorial to honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
“I’m extremely excited to have been named Goodwill Ambassador,” she said at a press conference, adding that she would also raise her voice in song “every now and then”. She said she would also be reaching out to people in all walks of life in order to get out the word about the Memorial and win funding for it.
Accompanying Ms. Moore were Raymond Wolfe, Permanent Representative of Jamaica and Chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee, and Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the African Union. Both men described her installation as an important milestone in raising awareness about the Permanent Memorial, first called for in General Assembly resolution 62/122 of December 2007. Its completion date is set for the end of 2012 and a Trust Fund has been established to support its construction.
Noting that $1 million of the estimated $4.5 million needed to complete the project had been raised, Mr. Wolfe said the new Goodwill Ambassador’s participation would not only heighten awareness of the project, but also help mobilize urgently needed resources. More than 50 Member States had contributed to the Trust Fund, with some contributing more than once and one giving more than half the total amount received thus far, he added.
“We have to look at the corporate world and see how to creatively, through the support of artists like Ms. Moore, promote knowledge and spur contributions,” he continued, noting that she was clearly filled with a sense of pride, as well as a sense of urgency. It was “time for us to stop talking”, he stressed. “It’s time for us to do.”
He said that, among other things, the Permanent Memorial Committee aimed to move outward in concentric circles to raise greater awareness both about the Memorial’s construction and the legacy of the slave trade. While the Committee had fallen short with United States corporations so far, one sponsor had already pledged a sum that would kick-start a renewed fundraising focus on the business world, he said.
Underlining the African Union’s support for the cause, Mr. Antonio recalled that the main theme of the Africa Day celebrations on 31 May had focused on the African diaspora, with particular attention on contributions to the Permanent Memorial. Emphasizing that the General Assembly resolution was not enough, he called for concrete action on the ground, particularly through further contributions to the Memorial’s construction and ongoing awareness-raising efforts. The latter should include outreach to both the States and peoples of Africa, he stressed.
Responding to questions, Ms. Moore said that as a former inner city educator, she would like to go into school systems and homeless shelters to spread the word. Her efforts would seek to reach the two ends of a wide spectrum — the high-end corporate world, on the one hand, and inner city communities on the other.
Mr. Wolfe emphasized that outreach and education initiatives relating to the Permanent Memorial and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade were not meant to demean or condemn, but to change mindsets. It was to be hoped that United States corporations, some of which had been linked with slavery and the slave trade, would be willing to partner with the United Nations in seeking to correct the injustices of the past, he said, noting that efforts to change attitudes must start in homes and schools, where prejudice began.
Mr. Antonio underlined further that the Memorial would not be merely a silent design object; rather, it would incorporate an educational dynamic.
Asked about her specific planned role, Ms. Moore said her first steps would include meeting with the Permanent Memorial Committee to connect with its plans, but she would also use her music.
Mr. Wolfe said up-to-date information on the Permanent Memorial could be found at www.unslaverymemorial.org.
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