History at Wisbech and Fenland Museum featured in Samuel L. Jackson BBC documentary
PUBLISHED: 12:13 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:13 27 October 2020
A Fenland hero’s fight against slavery was featured in the final part of Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson’s Enslaved documentary for the BBC.
Parts were filmed at Wisbech and Fenland Museum as journalist Afua Hirsch spoke to local historian Dr Maureen James about Thomas Clarkson.
The documentary that has ranged across three continents to find the untold stories of enslaved Africans came to the Fens to film Clarkson’s campaign chest.
The chest, which travelled thousands of miles across Britain with him on horseback, making the case for abolition, is on display at the Wisbech museum.
Part four first shows the thousands of signatures of the ordinary people of Manchester on one of many hundreds of petitions to end the slave trade sent to parliament in the 1790s onwards.
Dr James tells Afua Hirsch how Clarkson didn’t stop campaigning when the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed in 1807.
She said: “He spent the rest of his life dedicated to the cause of ending slavery.
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“He’d be this figure turning up in towns talking to groups of people to set up societies to abolish firstly the slave trade, and then slavery itself.”
Dr James shows on different shelves inside the chest, examples of African craftsmanship and raw materials that could be traded from Africa instead of trafficking people.
She shows hideous examples of the cruelty involved in slavery – a spiked iron neck collar and a long iron ankle chain to tie people together.
Over the last four weeks the documentary’s team of ‘Divers with a Purpose’ have been filmed scouring the ocean floor for traces of the two million enslaved Africans known to have died crossing the Atlantic.
Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson is reunited with the Benga people of Gabon from where his ancestors were trafficked 250 years ago.
Wisbech Museum curator Robert Bell said: “We were delighted to welcome Afua Hirsch and Dr James to the museum to film Thomas Clarkson’s campaign chest.
“When the producers explained the concept to us we thought this was such a groundbreaking project.
“We are thrilled to have had a small part in this amazing production and have been watching the series; if you haven’t seen it the series is available on BBC iPlayer.”
To watch the show, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000nwyk/enslaved-with-samuel-l-jackson-series-1-4-our-people
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