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To: Mayor of London, Tower Hamlets Council, Canal & River Trust, Museum of London

Build a Memorial for Olaudah Equiano in West India Quay, London
Build a memorial to honour the Black African writer and abolitionist, Olaudah Equiano in the plinth now empty following the removal of Robert Milligan's statue.

Why is this important?

West India Dock facilitated the transatlantic slave trade, to store the sugar from the West Indian plantations where enslaved men, women and children worked.

Our successful campaign led to the removal of slave trader Robert Milligan’s statue. This was a step forward in reconciling with the history of systemic human exploitation to amass wealth.

However, this is not enough. It is equally important to install a monument to represent the movement against institutional racism by honouring a Black African abolitionist.

Olaudah Equiano was born around the year 1745 in Guinea. At eleven he and his sister were kidnapped while out playing and were enslaved.

In 1786 in London, he became involved in the movement to abolish slavery. He was a prominent member of the 'Sons of Africa', the first Black political organisation in Britain to campaign for abolitionism.

In the spring of 1789, he published his autobiography, 'The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African'. It is one of the earliest books published by a black African writer which contributed hugely in setting the scene through religious and economic arguments for the abolition of slavery.

Equiano’s work had the overt anti-slavery agenda and a more subtle anti-racist project to dispel some of the racist myths existed in eighteenth-century England.

Equiano did not just publish the book and leave it to fend for itself. Instead, he vigorously promoted it by going on lecture tours around England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and by promoting his book he was also promoting the idea of the abolition of slavery.

During the early 1790s, Equiano had not just turned his life story into a document opposing slavery but had transformed his entire life into an anti-slavery document.

Equiano is a symbol of resistance to the slave trade and slavery.

To honour the millions of slaves who were exploited to the benefit West India Dock, to honour all those who suffered from the transatlantic slave trade, we demand a memorial of Olaudah Equiano.

You can read more about Olaudah Equiano at
The short bio of Olaudah Equiano is compiled from Brycchan Carey's blog entry. He is an academic and author on slavery, emancipation, and abolition.

#Black Lives Matter
London, UK

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2020-06-19 17:02:20 +0100

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