The Getty Cody Lecture: Debate on the Slavery Past is much needed

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Amsterdam

Talking about the past of slavery is essential. That’s what David Olusoka, professor of public history at the University of Manchester, said in his Getty Cody Lecture at the Troban Museum in Amsterdam on Wednesday. In it, he also spoke about slavery in England and the Netherlands and how both countries provided their national identity.

The lecture was organized by the Tropenmuseum and the National Institute for Dutch Slavery History and Heritage (NiNsee). The annual speech reflects “the history of slavery and how this horrific past reverberates in the present,” according to the organizations.

As a historian, filmmaker and presenter, Olusoka is committed to recognizing people of color and their role in world history, the museum said. In his address, titled ‘Breaking the Silence’, Olusoka noted that a historic shift is underway where governments, businesses, institutions and universities must ask themselves what their role is in slavery, and often the youth are asking that question.

Historical cover

“History is not easy,” Olusoka said. “That historical turn not only adds new, uncomfortable chapters to previously comfortable national histories, but also raises the deeper question of what social functions history should and should do in the 21st century.”

The lecture was attended by Robert Dijkgraf, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, who co-ordinates the last year of remembrance for slavery.

On July 1, Getty Cody, or Día de Abolition, commemorates and celebrates the abolition of slavery. This year marks exactly 150 years since slavery ended under Dutch rule.

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