International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
annually on March 25th (since 2008)
United Nations General Assembly on December 17th, 2007
Today we honor and remember those who suffered and died as a result of slavery: the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. As many as 15 million men, women, and children were cramped in slave ships, devoid of sanitation and any basic necessities, as part of the trade. Upon arrival at their destination, they faced a new life of perennial hardship and suffering. Enslaved Africans were spread all over the world, but most were sent to the Americas. Ninety-Six percent of those held captive on the coast of Africa were sent to South America and the Caribbean Islands. Not only does today's holiday honor and remember the victims, but it also keeps one foot grounded in the present, by aiming to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/122 on December 17, 2007. It declared the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to be observed annually on March 25, beginning the following year. March 25, 2007, had previously been recognized as the International Day for the Commemoration of the Two-hundredth Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which illustrates why March 25 was chosen as the date for today's holiday. (The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in the United States had been passed in 1807 and went into effect on January 1, 1808.) The resolution for today's holiday created it to complement the already existing International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
Each year, today's holiday has a different theme. Events are held at the United Nations Headquarters and have also been organized by United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) around the globe. Events have included discussions, visits to slave ruins, film viewings, and cultural performances. Other events apart from the United Nations have also been held around the world.
How to Observe
Here are some ways to remember victims of the transatlantic slave trade and observe the day:
- Attend an event at the United Nations Headquarters or one organized by a United Nations Information Centre.
- Visit The Permanent Memorial at the United Nations in Honour of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
- Explore resources related to the day and information about past observances.
- Reflect at a slave trading site in West Africa or a southern plantation in the United States.
- Visit the International Slavery Museum or the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- Read a book about the transatlantic slave trade.
- View a timeline of the banning of slavery and the slave trade throughout the world.
- Learn more about the slave trade online at The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.
- Explore UNESCO's slave route project.
- Watch a film about slavery or the slave trade, such as Amistad or 12 Years a Slave.
- Watch a documentary about the transatlantic slave trade, such as "The Black Atlantic," the first episode of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.