The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is observed on August 23 every year. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the day, and it was first commemorated on August 23, 1998, in Haiti and on Gorée Island in Senegal on August 23, 1999.
On this day, UNESCO raises awareness of the horrors of the slave trade and honors those who suffered and were dehumanized by the practice of slavery.
“It is time to abolish human exploitation once and for all, and to recognize the equal and unconditional dignity of each and every individual, said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
The date of August 23 is very significant because it marks the 1791 uprising on the island of Saint Domingue, which today is the Republic of Haiti that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
According to UNESCO, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition “is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples.”
Each year the Director-General of UNESCO invites the Ministers of Culture of all its Member States to organize countrywide events with a particular focus on youth, educators and artists.
The United States, which is a UNESCO member country, commemorates slavery remembrance day on August 20th. That date in 1619 is when the first 20 enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to America’s shores.
“Today is a day to reflect on the terrible toll of slavery, and on our nation’s profound ability to heal and emerge stronger,” President Biden said. Despite the horrors they faced, these men and women and their descendants have made countless contributions to the building of this nation and the continuous effort to realize the American ideal,” the president added.
“Let us remember the victims and freedom fighters of the past so that they may inspire future generations to build just societies,” said Director-General Azoulay in a statement on UNESCO’s website.