Politics

Plaque Commemorating Slavery Abolitionist Sarah Parker Remond To Be Unveiled


Image: Public domain

A commemorative plaque dedicated to slavery abolition campaigner Sarah Parker Remond will be unveiled in London in March.

Remond was an 19th century African American activist who travelled the USA and UK giving passionate anti-slavery speeches. Her first speech was given when she was just 16 years old, in Massachussets, and though she was a free woman and never enslaved herself, she spent her life campaigning for the lives and freedom of others.

Over a century before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white bus passenger, Remond refused to sit in a racially segregated section of a theatre in Boston in 1853. She was pushed down stairs as she was ejected from the theatre, successfully sued the theatre for damages, and the court ordered the theatre to remove segregated seating.

At the age of 32, she travelled to Britain to build support for the anti-slavery movement here. While in London she studied at Bedford College (now Royal Holloway), and what is now UCL, from where she graduated as a nurse .

UCL is supporting the unveiling of the plaque as part of its Women’s History Month events. It’s also offering the public a chance to learn more about the life and work of Sarah Parker Remond in a virtual talk, a week before the plaque is unveiled, given by Professor Sirpa Salenius, author of An Abolitionist Abroad: Sarah Parker Remond in Cosmopolitan Europe.

Remond was also involved in the campaign to allow women to vote in Britain, and is thought to be the only Black woman (of 1,500 signatories) to sign a women-only petition on the subject in 1866. In addition to her extensive and admirable campaigning efforts, Remond relocated to Italy where she continued her medical career, training to become a doctor at the prestigious Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, while continuing her abolitionist work.

Black History Walks has this video about Sarah Parker Remond’s life:

Sarah Parker Remond plaque

The plaque is being produced by the Nubian Jak Community Trust, a scheme which creates plaques and sculptures to commemorate Black and minority ethnic people in Britain. It’s sponsored by Black History Walks, which offers walking tours in London, and in-person/online talks, to uncover the 3,500 years of Black History in London.

Remond is already commemorated at UCL in the form of the Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation, which commissioned a portrait of her in 2021, but beyond that, her achievements aren’t all that well-known. This plaque should change that, and deservedly so.

The plaque unveiling takes place on 25 March 2022 at 12pm, near Russell Square tube station (exact location and details TBC).



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