was a nasty unimaginable way of treating people..."
For many years it's
been assumed that Bristol and Liverpool had been most directly involved with slavery.
But new evidence suggests Birmingham not only profited from, but also had
a hand in supporting and defending the slave trade.
Inside Out takes award-winning
musician Soweto Kinch on a personal journey into his city's past.
at the role it played in enslaving his own ancestors.
2007 marks the bicentenary of the outlawing of the transatlantic
But by that date in 1807, millions of Africans had already
been forcibly transported to the Americas to work.
Professor David Dabydeen
of Warwick University believes it could have been as many as 30 million.
for them were horrific.
on slave ships were horrific |
"A third of
those people died going over. Another third died on the plantations within a few
months of arriving because of new tropical diseases.
because of sheer hard work.
"It was a nasty unimaginable way of treating
people as goods, with no sense of humanity."
days the brutality of slavery is universally condemned in Britain.
does the desire to put the darker chapters of our history behind us mean we're
also failing to face up to it?
Musician Soweto Kinch grew up in Handsworth.
Like many others, he assumed Birmingham had little to do with slavery.
Kinch discovers Birmingham's links to slavery|
During the course
of our programme he's seen plenty of evidence to change his mind.
was the main supplier of iron and ironware to Africa", says Professor Dabydeen.
"Padlocks, irons, chains muzzles - all the instruments to police the
slave trade. Of course that made an enormous amount of money."
he says, there were the guns:
"From the 1760's onwards
150,000 guns on average were exported to Africa.
the slave trade."
Kinch is shocked by the Midlands' slave trade past|
piece of evidence which has come to light is a pro-slavery petition dating from
It was signed by people involved in industry in Birmingham who feared
their livelihoods were under threat from the abolitionist movement.
Soweto, it's been a journey of discovery.
"I'd seen pictures
of slave ships.
"I'd heard about the plantations but nothing prepared
me for the sheer scale and brutality of the system.
"I was also shocked
to find out that my city, Birmingham, was so involved."
Britain prepares to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade,
some are arguing for a greater openness about the past.
used by slave traders.|
Photo - AP Images.
Dr Clive Harris,
of the African Caribbean Millennium Centre says we have still got a long way to
"I think Birmingham, like the whole of the country,
is in denial. I am asking for a truthful account of British history."
the BBC Abolition interactive slavery map
down your family history in relation to slavery
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