Yesterday we held the now traditional PhD seminar at Middlesex University School of Law. It was an exciting day with a mix of staff and student presentations about their research. On a personal level it was heartening to see so much knowledge and excitement in the room. As our heads were still buzzing from this full day of work and exchange, we all headed to central London to participate in a Slavery Walking Tour of London by Historian Dr William Pettigrew of the University of Kent.
It was a truly unforgettable experience, covering the theme of slavery from the Roman times of London until the present day. A significant part of the tour focused on the great abolitionist movement, in many ways the first successful large-scale business and human rights campaign. Among a variety of other interesting facts, he mentioned that the former headquarter of the now defunct Royal African Company, which shipped more African slaves to America than any other single organisation in the history of the transatlantic slave trade (about 150,000), is now an LA Fitness branch. He currently is in discussions with them to get a plaque on the wall so that this important historical fact does not get forgotten. Apparently LA Fitness is not so keen on the idea…
Dr Pettigrew also highlighted that the fight against the traffic in human beings is far from over, as slaves still live in London and are typically found in houses of diplomats, where they work as domestic workers.
I highly recommend the tour, as being able to put historical events in context is priceless. It was great fun, despite the extremely serious subject.