Today our nation celebrates Emancipation Day, a day that marks the abolition of the vile practice of chattel slavery. It is a day for both celebration of the liberation of enslaved Africans and an opportunity to reflect on, and learn from, the lessons of this dark period in our history.
The enslavement of Africans throughout the Caribbean and the Americas, via the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, is perhaps the greatest crime against humanity in the history of mankind.
Though this part of our history is difficult and painful, it is important that younger generations are made aware of the unspeakable horrors of slavery that thousands who were captured and brought to this country were forced to endure.
Even as we reflect on the atrocities imposed upon enslaved Africans, we also see a people who refused to be defeated. A people who would never stop fighting for the freedom that was their birthright. It is the history of a proud African culture whose spirit could not be shackled or broken. It is the history of an emancipated people forging a new nation in the fires of hope and prayer to chart their own destiny.
It is those qualities of fierce determination to remain unyielding in the face of unspeakable oppression that we must replicate today as we face the massive burdens caused by the Pandemic.
Today the descendants of Africans have contributed significantly to national development and on this special day, it is important that we recognize and appreciate their outstanding contributions.
As we mark the 187th anniversary of the coming into effect of the Emancipation Proclamation, I join the nation in celebrating the incredible journey of our African brothers and sisters, drawing inspiration from the courageous fight for emancipation, and the freedoms which we are all able to enjoy today.
We join in unison to celebrate and pay our respects to those who fought for liberation, and in the immortal words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr we say resoundingly “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we’re free at last.”
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
1st August 2021