Norfolk's role in slave trade
LORNA MARSH Norfolk's historical links with slavery will be revealed in a groundbreaking exhibition to mark Black History Month and the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.
Norfolk's historical links with slavery will be revealed in a groundbreaking exhibition to mark Black History Month and the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.
The Norfolk and Transatlantic Slavery exhibition at the Archive Centre at County Hall in Norwich will document how human traffic affected the region and challenge people's views of the county's heritage.
It will be officially opened on Monday by eminent black writer, broadcaster and academic Dr Mike Phillips, who is also a trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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From Tuesday, the exhibition will be open to the general public throughout the whole of October's Black History Month, and through to December 15.
Historically, research into British links with the slave trade focused on places like Liverpool, Bristol and London, but it affected the whole country, including Norfolk.
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The documents and objects in the exhibition reveal Norfolk's involvement, showing how many in the county grew rich as a consequence of trading in enslaved Africans, owning and profiting from plantations and buying and selling the produce.
They also show how others from the county came to oppose the system.
Documents also reveal information about the long-term resistance of the enslaved, including many rebellions, and how it ultimately brought the trade down.
And they show how people of African descent have lived in this county for more than 300 years.
Sean Whyte, community cohesion and diversity officer at Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council, said: "This exhibition challenges the once held notion that Norfolk was 'the country's last white bastion', and challenges many of the commonly held views about Norfolk's heritage.
"Visitors to the exhibition will be surprised to find that black people have played an active role in Norfolk society for centuries, and will be proud to know that people from this county were at the forefront of the fight to abolish this barbaric trade."
County councillor Christopher Lloyd Owen, chairman of the Norfolk Records Committee, said: "The project's groundbreaking research findings have already been put to very good use, in particular, through the work done with young people, aimed at creating a better understanding of our own heritage and that of other ethnic groups.
"The exhibition continues that work and the tale it tells is a poignant commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of that terrible trade."