Revealing Histories: Remembering Slavery

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Simply Read - Manchester and the transatlantic slave trade

Manchester's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade is integral to the thriving, multi-cultural city that we live in today. The rapid development of Industrial Manchester during the 1700s grew out of the wealth generated from the cotton textile industry, with the cotton being grown by enslaved labour on plantations in America. This wealth lead to the development of the regions economic, political and social infrastructure; the legacy of which is evident in Manchester's buildings and institutions such as the Royal Exchange, the Free Trade Hall, the Cotton Bud Fountain, also the city's museums and art galleries and their collections.

The city also has a long tradition of welcoming radical thinkers and movements to defend human rights; including being the first city to sign a petition to abolish the transatlantic slave trade and inviting many former slaves to tour the region to raise awareness of the horrors of slavery. The legacy of slavery is also apparent through the presence of people from black diaspora communities in Manchester, who continue to play a significant role in shaping the economic, social, cultural and political life of contemporary British society.

M20849.2 Simply Read (Panel 2 of 3) Simply Read, Nathan Carter, 2007, © Manchester City Galleries

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