Building on the Wilberforce Anti-Slavery Movement legacy today

Last week, I met with a number of Groups working together on the Wilberforce legacy from the Hull Freedom Centre – a community centre in East Hull, England. Several groups are working on a variety of initiatives geared to promote the Wilberforce Anti-Slavery ethos in the modern world. People like Karen Okra and Hull Identity are seeking to promote sporting and arts events to raise awareness about diversity; David Murden of the And Albert Foundation is working with Northern Gateways to develop viable trade corridors across Africa driven by ethical business principles and, then I spoke with Gifty Burrows of the Wilberforce Monument Fund.

Who was William Wilberforce and what are  aims of the Monument Fund?

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was born in Hull and became a leading English politician, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. It had been a long hard struggle and the campaign had used a series of highly innovative campaign initiatives to raise awareness and change opinion.

The William Wilberforce Monument Fund is a fundraising campaign to improve the cultural and historical awareness of the Wilberforce legacy. It aims to light the monument of the world famous slavery abolitionist, in time for Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture in 2017.

Why is there a need to do this?

History is meant to inform the present so that we learn from past events. It is therefore relevant to revisit the abolitionist movement and remember the endeavours of those who chose to do something despite it being against the majority thinking of the time, to put an end to a practice that was morally reprehensible. The Wilberforce legacy should be remembered in light of the continued presence of modern day slavery and human trafficking. Lighting the monument will celebrate the achievements of the past, but also encourage that focus remains on the problems of today when millions are still not free from the will of others.

Why should the monument be lit?

We believe that “to light the monument is to light the message”. Wilberforce and the abolitionists found that their efforts came with a great cost to their health, reputation and finance. They found that the responsibility for action doesn’t always lie with others but it took a collective will.  The story of the monument is one of a community that recognised their endeavours. At over 100 feet tall it was built by the public by voluntary subscription and remarkably it was moved a century later, again at public cost, when it became a traffic hazard. It is the aim to rekindle this generosity of public spirit in lighting the monument by 2017 as Hull becomes the UK City of Culture. It presents an opportunity to recognise the historic contributions of Wilberforce and others, a memorial to those who suffered. It will be a beacon, a visible reminder of the need to continue to do more for the present day.

How do I find out more?

We have a weekly blog that can be accessed on http:\\

This site provides up to date progress of the campaign, links for further information and links if people want to make a donation to the fund and chose us as their designated charity through Easyfunding.

How can I get involved?

The William Wilberforce Monument Fund is a small charity with five trustees and two patrons (Lemn Sissay MBE and the present William Wilberforce). We welcome anyone who wants to get involved to get in touch with us by e mailing or through Facebook and Twitter.  Please help us with our fundraising efforts and share your knowledge about the Wilberforce legacy.

Transformational Logistics is focussed on building awareness of and developing an understanding of the need for ethical business practice. Watch this space for more from the Hull Freedom Centre Initiative.


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