Americans learn about Black history in Liverpool

A delegation from Martin Luther King’s alma mater praised LJMU for its approach to its slave trade history on a visit to Liverpool.

The university has recently established a Slavery Project Advisory Board to examine the links between the transatlantic trade and the founding, financing and ethos of LJMU’s forerunner colleges in the early 19th Century.

LJMU is one of the first UK universities to sign up to the Universities Studying Slavery Project (USSP), based in Virginia, and recently launched an MA module called Liverpool and Slavery.

The delegation from Morehouse College, Georgia, visited LJMU as part of a fact-finding trip to the UK and were delighted with their warm welcome, which included presentations from Black civil rights campaigner Chantelle Lunt and leading slavery researcher Dr Andrea Livesey and meetings with the Liverpool Black community.

Morehouse, based in Atlanta, is famous for its alumni – which include MLK, Samuel L Jackson and Spike Lee and is the number one producer of Black male graduates in social sciences in the US.

Professor Sinead Younge, Director of the Morehouse Institute for Social Justice Inquiry and Praxis, said: “We’ve brought a group of students to England to educate them about Black history and their identity. Remember, England was the colonial power in the Transatlantic trade so much of the story begins here.

“We’re grateful for such a warm welcome at LJMU; coming here is really an education that these young men can’t get in books.”

Organiser Chantelle Lunt, a PhD researcher in the School of Education, spoke about the Black community in Liverpool and introduced the group to leading figures like film-maker Bea Freeman and broadcaster and LJMU Honorary Fellow Ngunan Adamu.

And she organised for leading slave trade scholar Dr Andrea Livesey, from the School of Humanities and Social Science, to give an update on her work. Andrea is on the steering committee of USSP and has extensive experience of the slave trade in the US. She said her on-going project was “a reckoning of who we are as an institution”.

Andrea emphasised to the US delegation the importance of the slave trade, not only in the economics of building Liverpool and Britain but in the perception of black people through things like racial science and eugenics.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Joe Yates, who opened the session, said it was really important for LJMU and other institutions to face up to their history: “Yes we want to celebrate diversity and this city’s great tradition of mixed cultures but we must also understand the less palatable elements of our history.”


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