Revealing Histories: Remembering Slavery

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bonbonniere - Responses by gallery visitors and staff

Bonbonniere, 1958.467: Mike Leng audio response - Leng, Mr Mike

1958.467 bonbonniere
My name is Mike Leng, and I'm from Manchester I was born and raised in Manchester.

It's a total example of the divide between the classes that as beautiful as it is, it couldn't possibly be afforded by the working classes and they couldn't afford the sweetmeats or anything that went into them. Everything they had was coarse from the clothing to the food they ate.

There was a girl in the Athenaeum one time who said to me that 'All English should be ashamed of the slave trade.' And this was in the middle of the Hard Times exhibition, and I just pointed around to the pictures, paintings on the walls and said, 'Those are my ancestors,' I said, 'They were far too busy being oppressed to go out and oppress anybody else.'

The people of Manchester actually did go on strike to support Abraham Lincoln in his fight against the slave trade. They went on strike, but there's no strike pay, you know you went hungry while you was on strike. The unions basically didn't exist in those days for that reason. So you know it was a wonderful thing they did, I believe, that they went on strike to support Abraham Lincoln.

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Mike Leng shares his thoughts about the bonbonniere and talks about the role of the people of Manchester in supporting Abraham Lincoln in his fight against the transatlantic slave trade.

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