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    R3 project

    Rebellion, Revolts and the Road to Freedom: Slave Uprisings in the 1800s and the fight for Emancipation in the British West Indies.

    Our Project:

    We have been working with young people from across London to explore the role of slave rebellions in the early 19th century. These uprisings of enslaved Africans were key in solidifying and promoting the case for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and their full Emancipation in the colonies. These are little known chapters of history which shaped global history. We will began our research in Summer 2013 to deliver a youth theatre production in the Autumn as well as workshops and a documentary film delivered in 2014.

    Our Inspiration:

    Our initial interest in this subject matter came from debates and discussions held in the aftermath of the riots across the UK in August 2011. These riots were across the media and in popular public opinion decried as being amoral, however the young people disagreed with this view. They felt that though the actions were wrong there was a sentiment of frustration and disaffection amongst some section of rioters, which may have been legitimate.

    During the riots we were working on the Youth, Rebellion and Urban Music Project. This looked at how the music that young people listened to in Britain during the 1950s – 1980s embodied a spirit of rebellion. This further inspired us to look for examples of where a set of marginalised or oppressed peoples staged rebellions that changed the course of history. By looking at the examples of the plantation uprisings in the British West Indies, we can get a sense of how the courage of a few individuals mobilised the group to stand up for change.

    Project Theme:

    Individuals who stand out include characters like Bussa, Quamina and Sam Sharpe. Bussa, in Barbados, led some 400 freedom fighters in a battle for their freedom on 16th April 1816. Quamina, with his son Jack, presided over the mainly bloodless Demerara rebellion of 1823, which saw an uprising of around 10,000 slaves in what is now known as Guyana.This revolt was violently quashed by the 21st Fusileers and the 1st West Indian Regiment. We will also look at Baptist minister Samuel Sharpe whose Christmas Uprising (December 1831-Jan 1832) mobilised 60,000 enslaved Africans and lasted for 10 days before being brutally put down.

    Within the stories of these uprisings we will examine the tremendous examples of human bravery, organisation and will to be free. By looking at Treasury Records, Parliamentary Debate Records and Newspaper Archives we will look at the impact these Uprisings had on society in Britain and the key role they played in the journey to Emancipation. Our research will also lead us to examine the triangular trade in depth and look at the specific role of Britain and how the trade increased its stature as a global power. We will be based at the Museum of London in Docklands where we will take part in workshops and heritage walks as well as accessing museum archives.





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