>Beyond Slavery Conference: Is it time to move on?

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On Saturday 26 January, 2008, The Synergy Centre in Southwark, London, hosted the Beyond Slavery conference. With noted black community members, historians and cultural commentators the debate explored the contemporary relevance and legacy of slavery and colonisation and the direct impact on modern-day social problems in South London.

The recent spate of shootings and stabbings, and the growth in gang culture in South London and elsewhere has often been characterised as a product of the disruption of social structures and cultural identities caused by slavery and colonisation.

Others maintain that such explanations insulate communities from taking responsibility for tackling these problems.

I was there to document the conference and open forum, and produced ten short films.

Colourful Radio Presenter and Broadcaster Henry Bonsu introduced the seminar and spoke about the recent racist comments made by Boris Johnson, the Conservative London Mayoral candidate.

Dr William (Lez) Henry, Academic, Youthworker, Dancehall DJ

Dr William Henry discussed the history of slavery and perceptions of racism, from the times of the Egyptian Empire to the Jena Six case in Louisiana, America.

Question and Answers with Dr William (Lez) Henry

Dr William Henry takes some questions from the audience after his talk at Beyond Slavery.
Decima Francis MBE

Decima Francis MBE, founder/director SASS, From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation (FBMF), Peace on the Streets, and Calling The Shots anti-gun crime initiative, talked on the issues of
racism, prejudice and black history.

Ty, Hip Hop MC and producer

Hip Hop MC and producer Ty, discussed Hip Hop music, the music industry and argued it is not time to move on from slavery, because the world still does not understand the damage done.

Sybil Phoenix MBE

Sybil Phoenix MBE, Methodist minister, foster mother, community leader and ex-mayor of Lewisham, discussed her life as a black foster mother, fostering hundreds of children in her life, and what happened when she was nominated for an MBE as the first black woman.

Open Forum Part One

Decima Francis explained about the Pathways Initiative, due to be introduced in London – a program to sweep the youth from the streets, to “clean up” London prior to the 2012 Olympics. So Solid Crew founder, Megaman, draws his concerns to Project Trident, the Metropolitan Police-backed initiative to tackle gang-related violence.

Spartacus: Open Forum Part Two


Teacher, Spartacus, delivers an incredibly powerful speech on enslavement through warfare and declares the war is still going on. Audience members state the directly visible war is now between young people killing each other because they live in neighbouring communities with differing postcodes.

Open Forum Part Three

Computer games, television music and modern-day slavery are all called into question.


Post Conference Interviews

Henry Bonsu , Megaman and Ty talk on how they viewed the success of the conference and where to move forward in terms of the slavery issue, and gun and knife crime.

All stills and footage (c) Jason N. Parkinson 2008.

For stills and footage availability contact the Author.

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