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Why this site

Paper cut: Run away slave advert, Edinburgh Evening Courant
There are many resources, projects and websites dedicated to marking the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. Why do we need another one?

This website was set up to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in Scotland. It is true that there are several such sites UK wide, but this site is intended to look at how the slave trade, slavery and abolition have impacted upon Scotland, and how people from Scotland are seeking to confront and seek to join in ending contemporary forms of slavery.

The story of the Slave Trade and slavery needs to be told afresh to every generation. It is true that the story of the sufferings, struggles and frustrations surrounding the Slave Trade have for a long time remained partially told in many parts of the United Kingdom. A few years ago some of the cities that were at the centre of the Slave Trade were reluctant to acknowledge their involvement and complicity in this tragedy. And this could be understood, as often we fall in the trap of judging the past through contemporary values. And today’s social norms and social standards find the commerce in human beings unacceptable and abhorrent.

In Scotland the story of the Slave Trade has been for a long time only partially told. Just two years ago Ian Whyte wrote in the Scotsman that “For so many years Scotland's historians harboured the illusion that our nation had little to do with the slave trade or plantation slavery”. Ian has done extensive research and he tells us the story of those Scots, in Scotland and abroad, who stood up to fight for the abolition of the Slave Trade and slavery.

We need to tell the story, of complicity in causing suffering, of cruelty and exploitation of other people by fellow Scots (and in many cases our own ancestors), and we have to face the past (as we often would like others to face the brutality that their ancestors carried out against our own ancestors). But we also need to recognise and celebrate the vision, commitment and dedication of those that fought for the freedom of the slaves and the ending of the slave trade.

Today we also need to identify and keep watch over modern forms of slavery. Looking to the past helps us understand the present, it helps us also to develop strategies for the future.

The story from Scotland can only be told by us the Scots. Therefore we feel that we have the duty to face the past, recover the present in order to shape a better future.

There are still many stories untold and there is still much more to learn from the past.

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