Making Freedom: Riots, Rebellions and Revolutions.

Blog posted by Carol Dixon, PhD candidate

This blog features images from a launch event that was held at the Palace of Westminster on 9th June 2014 to mark the start of a touring exhibition I helped to curate as part of my work with the London-based education charity Windrush Foundation – ‘Making Freedom: Riots, Rebellions and Revolutions’.

Carol Dixon in front of the introductory panel for the Making Freedom exhibition (Houses of Parliament, 9th June 2014)
Carol Dixon in front of the introductory panel for the Making Freedom exhibition (Houses of Parliament, 9th June 2014)
Heidi Alexander MP with guests at the touring exhibition launch event (9th June 2014)
Heidi Alexander MP with guests at the touring exhibition launch event (9th June 2014)

The 20 exhibition panels present information about the political struggles and uprisings against enslavement and systems of indentured labour that took place throughout the Caribbean region during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the early sections of the narrative we use the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 as a departure point, and then document information about a number of other significant rebellions that took place in Barbados (1816), Demerara (1823), and Jamaica (1831-32) prior to enslaved Africans achieving full emancipation on 1st August 1838. Other panels provide details about the important post-emancipation campaigns to end colonial rule that eventually led to independence for the majority of islands and nations within the region by the 1960s.

A close-up of a pair of exhibition panels - specifically about the Morant Bay Rebellion (Jamaica, 1865)
A close-up of a pair of exhibition panels – specifically about the Morant Bay Rebellion (Jamaica, 1865)

As you can see from the photographs, all sections feature a wide range of illustrations sourced from the archives and documentary image collections of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) National Maritime Museum, Anti-Slavery International, National Portrait Gallery and the Digital Library of the Caribbean.To coincide with the launch event an Early Day Motion was issued by Sir Peter Bottomley MP which read:
“…this House notes with respect and contrition the details of the Making Freedom exhibition in Parliament; thanks the Windrush Foundation, Arthur Torrington CBE and all in the team who created the exhibition; invites all in Parliament to commend the website www.makingfreedom.co.uk and the observance of 1 August each year as Emancipation Day; remembers with respect the service and sacrifice of members of the West Indies regiments in the Great War and other conflicts; and determines to match the achievements of the passing of Acts banning the slave trade and then slavery with the uncomfortable knowledge of compensation going to slave owners and not to those enslaved.” (visit webpage).

 

Arthur Torrington CBE and Sam King MBE, co-founders of the education charity Windrush Foundation, at the exhibition launch event (Houses of Parliament, 9th June 2014)
Arthur Torrington CBE and Sam King MBE, co-founders of the education charity Windrush Foundation, at the exhibition launch event (Houses of Parliament, 9th June 2014)

My review piece with further details about the touring display appears in the July 2014 issue of Museums Journal:
Dixon, C. (2014) Making Freedom: Riots, Rebellions and Revolutions, Museums Journal, 114/07, pp. 52-53
(http://www.museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/reviews)
Related research to develop an Education Pack for primary schools is freely downloadable from the ‘Resources’ section of the Making Freedom project website here, and my article about this range of teaching and learning materials for classroom-based study will appear as a ‘Spotlight on…’ feature in the forthcoming Autumn 2014 issue of Geography.

Carol Dixon

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