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2019 Theme: "Remember Slavery: The Power of the Arts for Justice"

Since the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the arts have been used to confront slavery, empower enslaved communities and honour those who made freedom possible. They have also been vital tools in commemorating past struggles, highlighting ongoing injustices and celebrating the achievements of people of African descent. The 2019 theme therefore draws attention to the many examples of artistic expression – including memorials, music, dance and architecture – that have helped us to remember the history and consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Calendar of events

5 February 2019

President of Equatorial Guinea becomes first Head of State to visit Ark of Return

The President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Mr. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, visited the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations. See more information about his visit.

8 March 2019

New exhibit on slavery in New York featured at UN Headquarters
An exhibition entitled “From Africa to the New World: Slavery in New York” will be on display in the UN Visitors Lobby from 8 March to 8 April 2019. The exhibition describes the impact that the Transatlantic Slave Trade had on persons of African descent, both free and enslaved, who were living in New York City during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the role that art played in their struggle for freedom. Read more about the exhibition

25 March 2019

UN commemorates International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade in New York
The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was observed at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the afternoon of 25 March 2019. Highlights included a commemorative meeting of the General Assembly in the General Assembly Hall. The meeting featured remarks by the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and Member States. The keynote speaker was artist Christopher Cozier from Trinidad and Tobago. Watch the archived webcast.

25 March 2019

Cultural event at UN Headquarters highlights foods and music from Africa and the African diaspora
On the evening of 25 March 2019, the Remember Slavery Programme organized its annual cultural and culinary event in the Visitors’ Lobby. The gathering featured Afrobeats and other music from Africa and the African diaspora, including the Caribbean, by Serge Tiendrebeogo, a deejay from Burkina Faso. It also showcased foods contributed by Member States, illustrating legacies of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

28 March 2019

Civil society gathering discusses role of memorials in educating about history of Transatlantic Slave Trade and contributions of people of African descent
The United Nations Department of Global Communications hosted a briefing for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the public, entitled “The role of memorials in preserving history”, on 28 March 2019, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber. Organized by the Remember Slavery Programme in partnership with the NGO Relations, Advocacy & Special Events Section, the event brought together architects, curators and experts of African and Caribbean heritage to discuss how best to preserve, promote and manage sites of memory. Speakers included representatives of three slavery memorials and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as a youth representative. Read more about the event Watch the archived webcast.

10 May 2019

Global Student Videoconference brings together students from Africa and the Americas to discuss role of art in remembering slavery and promoting justice
The United Nations Department of Global Communications partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Associated Schools Network and Links, Inc. to hold its 11th annual Remember Slavery Global Student Videoconference on 10 May 2019, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Through sharing research projects and artistic presentations, students in Kenya, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States, learned about the power of the arts in promoting justice and tackling the consequences of the transatlantic slave trade. Speakers included Ms. Essence Gant, Beauty Director at BuzzFeed, who spoke about black representation in the media; H.E. Mr. Mauro Vieira, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; H.E. Ms. I. Rhonda King, Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations; and architect Rodney Leon, designer of the Ark of Return. Read more about the event Watch the archived webcast.

2 October 2019

Bigger than Africa film screening and discussion will highlight the impact of the Yoruba culture in the New World
On 2 October 2019, the Remember Slavery Programme, in partnership with the International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024, and in cooperation with the NGO Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) will hold a screening and discussion of the film Bigger Than Africa. The film tells the story of how the Yoruba culture survived suppression during the transatlantic slave trade and remained prominent in the New World. Nigerian-born film director Toyin Ibrahim Adekeye will introduce the film and participate in a discussion following the film. Please register here


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