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Legacies of Slavery

You are invited to explore how the legacies of slavery continue to affect life today. The resources here include bible studies, films, books, papers, prayers and theology covering the topics including the history of slavery and colonisation, white privilege, restorative justice, and look at how we can begin to build more conscious, just and anti-racist communities.

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The United Reformed Church is determined to explore the Legacies of Slavery. The transatlantic slave trade was one of the largest forced migrations of human beings across the globe. Race-based chattel slavery, as practised in the Atlantic world, remains one of the ugliest forms of exploitation of other human beings ever invented. The legacy of that dismal history continues to impact enormously on people around the world today. (pic: Redleaf Lodi: Pixabay)

British Colonial slavery was abolished in 1833-8. British slave traders had by then transported more African people across the Atlantic than any other nation. The British government paid £16.5 billion (adjusted for inflation) to slave-owners as compensation for the loss of their "property". The enslaved received nothing. The loan raised by the British Government to make the compensation payments was finally paid off in 2015.

We are called by our God to act justly, walk humbly and to love mercy. But true grace is never cheap. The Council for World Mission (CWM) has acknowledged that its origins, as the London Missionary Society, lie in this vital period of colonisation and slavery. Its antecedent denominations and churches were deeply complicit in this injustice. The legacies of their actions remain with us today. CWM has therefore embarked on a Legacies of Slavery Project with its partner denominations, including the United Reformed Church.

Together, we are examining how the practice of slavery has continued to shape the realities of all people.

Our work has four main goals:

  • To assess our own story in and complicity with the systems of slavery (HISTORY)
  • To understand better the urgency of racial justice and the issues which intersect with it (WHITE PRIVILEGE)
  • To find ways of advocating and securing reparations locally and globally (APOLOGY & RESTORATIVE JUSTICE)
  • To discover and practise anti-Imperial models of Christian life and mission in today’s world (ANTI-RACIST LIVING)

Initially, these resources are provided for Black History Month 2020, but the collection will continue thereafter and will be updated periodically. They include the following: 

  • A reading list with brief paragraphs indicating why the books should be read
  • A selection of suitable YouTube videos designed for reflection & group discussions
  • A selection of seminal movies
  • Informative papers and stand-alone documents
  • Bible studies, with leaders notes and questions, covering History, White Privilege Apology & Restorative Justice and Anti-racist living

We expect to be able to add resources to this repository throughout the year(s).


Black History Month

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White Privilege

A theological response to Black Lives Matter:
‘G-d is an abolitionist: a theological vision imagining a world without police’

Apology and Restorative Justice

The Case for Reparations
Professor Jason Hickel comes to a devastating realisation: were Britain to pay real, honest reparations for slavery and colonisation, there would simply be nothing left. It's not so much a fear of the prospect of paying, but that even thinking about what is owed reveals a hard truth: what is owed, is everything.

Anti-Racist Living

Righteous Anger: Blaming individuals for structural discrimination will only make it worse (pdf)
An article unpacking the challenges of tackling structural racism


The URC's work regarding Legacies of Slavery was born out of a Council for World Mission (CWM) project with the same title. For more materials to stimulate your thoughts, you may find it helpful to visit the CWM web page.


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