March in chains to apologise for transatlantic slave trade begins

By staff writers
1 Mar 2007

Campaigners bound in chains have set off on a 250-mile march to commemorate the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

The month-long Lifeline Expedition, called 'The March of the Abolitionists' will start from Hull and arrive in London.

It has been organised as an act of apology for the the Atlantic slave trade - something that the Church of England has now done, but the British Government refuses to do for fear of claims that there will be reparations.

The march also hopes to encourage dialogue and 'foster healing and reconciliation'.

The event is one of the first marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

The 30-strong group will be joined for the first two days by Lady Kate Davson, a descendant of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is also expected to join the march before it reaches Westminster on 25 March.

The expedition started on Thursday morning after the Bishop of Hull anointed the marchers with water from the font where William Wilberforce, who was elected as MP for the city in 1780, was baptised.

Those joining the walk include people whose ancestors were slaves or employed slaves.

Organiser David Pott said they hoped the walk would also draw attention to the estimated 12 million people the International Labour Organisation reports are working in modern slavery.

He said: "I have been reminded that it is normal that expeditions involve risks - slave trading expeditions were risky ventures.

"So as we seek to undo the damage initiated by the slave trade it should be no surprise that we face challenges. However, on our journey we will not suffer a fraction of what slaves went through."

He added that other people were welcome to join the march at any point during the event.

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