You may be surprised to learn that Lancaster, your city in the North-West of England, has a history of slavery that goes back centuries and the legacy of this dark chapter in our past is still with us today and on your doorstep. The pervasiveness of the profits and the business of slavery stretches out across the globe—and right here at home in Lancaster they are clearly visible in the very buildings you walk past every day. Slavery is not a relic of the past, but a living, breathing system that continues to devastate lives today.
That's why Facing the Past is launching a series of community-led activities, events and a digital archive making the evidence of Lancaster's involvement in the business of slavery widely known and accessible. We believe that this will help us raise awareness of the city of Lancaster as the UK's 4th largest slavery port. We want to challenge ourselves—and you—to think differently about your local history: not just what happened but also how we can use it to inform our future and reconcile with the fallout of the present. Our aim is to create a space to come together to level with each other and move forward with an eye on our better future.
There are more stories than those that are told in history books. In a series of heritage events including a community-led performance, we will uncover forgotten connections, share new research and commission work by North West artists and community historians as we explore black agency in the wake of persecution. Whether you're interested in learning about how Lancaster became one of Britain's biggest slave ports or want to share your own story, Facing the Past provides you with an opportunity for personal reflection and connection within this global movement for racial justice.
It's time for us to face up to this uncomfortable truth about our shared past and present —as well as about our individual roles in interrogating it—and try to find a way forward together.
Kit & Felicity
Directors of Facing the Past