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Breaking the Silence: Beating the Drum, International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 25 March 2009

Calendar of Events

Tuesday, 24 March

1:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Documentary Films Screenings

Scattered Africa: Faces and Voices of the African Diaspora1: 15 p.m. “Scattered Africa: Faces and Voices of the African Diaspora” (USA, 2008) 52 min. During the centuries of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, an estimated 100 million African people were torn from their homelands. Cultural anthropologist and filmmaker Dr. Sheila S. Walker takes viewers across the Americas, to Argentina, Uruguay and the United States, exploring past and current contributions that African people made to American culture. Q&A with Mr. Georges Collinet, who is featured in the film, will follow. For more information, please contact Einat Temkin.

Black Atlantic: On the Orixas Route2:45 p.m. "Black Atlantic: On the Orixas Route" Brazil, 2001, 55 min. The waters of the Atlantic brought the slaves from Africa to Brazil, their bodies in chains but their souls inexorably tied to mother Africa. This Brazilian-made film takes us to both shores, to show how spiritual life, dance and song came with the captive people and took root in the new soil. Among the many traditions were the language and gods of Yoruba and Jejes from the Republic of Benin. When a group of freed slaves returned to Africa to rediscover their roots they were looked upon as outsiders. Today, when Brazilians revisit Africa , they take with them the culture that the descendants of the slaves have kept alive in Brazil . The documentary is a testimony to some of the ironies of the Diaspora. Q & A with the film's director, Renato Barbieri, will follow. For more information, please contact Einat Temkin.

Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers4:15 p.m.  “Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers" (USA, 2008) 62 min.  Narrated by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, this film chronicles the birth of the Black Panther Party at Merritt College in Oakland during the politically, socially and economically turbulent times of the late 1960. This story is told through rare interviews with original party members and other key players – who were Merritt students at the time – and features original artwork from the many Black Panther Party publications as well as rarely seen photos – and focuses on the positive achievements of the Panthers movement and its legacy, not of violence but of what it learned and what it left behind. Q&A with the director, Jeffrey Heyman (USA), Executive Director, Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, Peralta Community College District will follow. For more information, please contact Einat Temkin.

Guests with a UN grounds pass may proceed directly to the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium where seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Non-UN grounds pass holders may register by sending and email to Einat Temkin or by fax
at (212) 963-0536 or obtain tickets in the UN public lobby from 12:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on 24 March.
Guests are welcome to attend individual films or the entire programme. For more information please contact Einat Temkin tel: (917) 367-5841

6:00 pm – 6: 45 pm “Drums” Exhibit

Drum ExhibitInauguration Introduced and moderated by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General, DPI Opening by Asha Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General Statement by the Head of the Cameroon Delegation

Sponsored by Cameroon, this one month exhibit is organized with the support of DPI, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, CARICOM and the African Union. It is envisaged that the Deputy Secretary-General will officially open the exhibit. The exhibit will highlight the historical perspective and socio-cultural impact of drums throughout the Slave Trade and beyond, from Africa to the Americas. The opening of the exhibit will be followed by a reception at the Delegates’ Dining Room.

For more information, please contact: Jan Arnesen.

Wednesday, 25 March

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Student Videoconference

Introduced by Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director, OD/DPI Moderated by Yvonne Acosta, Chief, Education Outreach, OD/DPI

The Education Outreach Cluster will organize a Student Video Conference at United Nations Headquarters to mark the observance of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In preparation for the observance and for the student video conference, the UN Cyberschoolbus team will develop an educational guide on the theme of the conference which will be linked it to the site in the United States that are part of the UNESCO-Associated Schools Project (ASPnet) Network, involving schools from around the world that have participated in programmes and research projects on slavery and the Slave Trade as well as schools in the New York city that will gather at UN Headquarters to connect with students gathered at videoconference sites for the event. At the close of the Student Video Conference, the New York City students will attend the Special Noon Drumming Event at UN Headquarters which will also be viewed by students from the other video conference sites.

For more information, please contact Yvonne Acosta or Bill Yotive.

12:00 – 12:30 p.m. Special Noon Drumming Event

Introduced and moderated by Kiyo Akasaka, USG, DPI Statements by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, President of the GA African Representative CARICOM Representative

Symbolic launch by the Secretary-General of commemorative events in New York, in the presence of the President of the General Assembly and ambassadors of all Member States.  Musicians, drummers, steel bands and schools will participate. The UNESCO Director General will hold a similar event in Paris. Elsewhere in the world, similar events are being organized at noon local time by DPI and other partners to commemorate the International Day.

For more information, please contact: Juan Carlos Brandt.

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm Press Conference

Chaired by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General, DPIWith artists Akon and Peter Buffett, Salif Keita, Gilberto Gil and Emmeline Michel (TBC)

7:15 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. Cultural Evening & Concert - General Assembly Hall

Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum” concertConcert moderated by CCH Pounder and Eric Falt

A first of its kind cultural evening and concert entitled “Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum” will form the centerpiece of the commemoration with a chorus of celebrities and dignitaries representing the global community collectively celebrating the resilience of the human spirit and victory over adversity. Confirmed artists and celebrities: Akon (Senegal/USA) & Peter Buffett (USA); Mezzo-Soprano Audrey Babcock (USA); Soprano Angela Brown (USA); The Blind Boys of Alabama (USA); Izaline Calister (Curacao/The Netherlands); Toumani Diabaté (Mali); Danny Glover (USA); Gilberto Gil (Brazil); Bill T. Jones (USA); Sarah Jones (USA); Salif Keita (Mali) and his Band; Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa); Emeline Michel (Haiti); The Marley Brothers (Jamaica); CCH Pounder (Guyana/USA/Senegal); Stephanie Benson (Ghana); Phylicia Rashad (USA); Tenor Noah Stewart (USA); Randy Weston (USA) and his Quintet; Choreographer Gabri Christa (Curacao/The Netherlands) and ten award winning dancers of various nationalities in a piece dedicated to the Middle Passage. Other invited celebrities will be present in the Hall. Pre-taped testimonials from Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali will be shown.

For more information, please contact: Jean-Victor Nkolo.

Thursday, 26 March

DPI/NGO Briefing10:15 a.m. - 12.15 p.m. DPI/NGO Briefing

Panel Discussion on the “Legacy of the Slave Trade on Modern Society Introduced and moderated by Eric Falt  


Sylviane A. Diouf Ph.D. (Senegal), Author of several books on slavery, Curator of Digital Collections, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Jeffrey Heyman (USA), Executive Director, Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, Peralta Community College District.

Jean Claude Martineau (Haiti), poet and historian.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Kenya), Author and distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of California; and

Derek Walcott (St Lucia), Nobel Prize.

For more information, please contact: Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte.

01:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.  Special Book Event

Ramu Damodaran Introduced and moderated by Ramu Damodaran Deputy Director, Outreach Division

The event at the UN Bookshop will focus on slavery; Aimé Césaire; Drums; and global nomads. Meet the author / book signing with Derek Walcott, Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Sylviane Diouf. One online publication/social network will participate in this special event.

For more information, please contact: Christopher Woodthorpe.

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