Wedgwood vases remind parliament of Britain's slave trading past

By staff writers
October 26, 2007

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In a gesture intended to remind the country of its past and point to a better future, Anglican Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has presented two vases to both Houses of Parliament, marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Michael J Martin MP and Baroness Helene Hayman, the respective Speakers (whose job it is to maintain orderly debate) received the vases at the Speakers House on 23 October 2007.

The vases depict a kneeling slave in chains surrounded by a caption that simply reads: ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’.

The six vessels, regarded by experts as priceless, were created by John Mohin, director of the famous Wedgwood company - known for their trdaemark blue and white.

The vases are are replicas of ones originally created by Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the company, who was part of the 18th century British Committee to abolish the slave trade.

Dr Sentamu, Britain's first black archbishop, and a person with a first hand experience of tyranny under the regime of Idi Amin in Uganda, declared: “The vases symbolise hope borne from suffering and tears. In commemorating some of the achievements of the abolitionists, their faith helped to transform the lives of countless men and women across the world. May we also live out that faith and become the change that we would like to see in the world.”

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