Secretary-General, on Day to Remember Slavery Victims, Stresses Crucial Need for Resistance Stories in Understanding Past, as Blight of Racism Persists

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, observed on 25 March:

There is much that we know about the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, and today is a day we remember:  the crime against humanity; the unprecedented mass human trafficking; the degrading economic transactions; and unspeakable human rights violations.

But there is also much that we do not know, and today is a day we learn.  Behind the facts and figures are millions of human stories.  Stories of untold suffering and pain.  Stories of families and communities ripped apart.  But also stories of awe-inspiring courage and defiance against the cruelty of oppressors.

We will never know every act of resistance, great or small, that slowly but surely triumphed over injustice, repression and enslavement.  But these accounts are crucial to our understanding of a past whose most pernicious and persistent legacy continues to blight our present — racism.

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a time to learn about and reflect on such stories.  To pay tribute to the millions of Africans who were torn from their homelands and communities.  And to stand up in solidarity against racism everywhere.

Today, people of African descent continue to confront racial discrimination, marginalization and exclusion.  The political, economic and structural power imbalances rooted in colonial rule, enslavement and exploitation, still deny equality of opportunity and justice.

On this International Day, let us stand united against racism and together build societies based on dignity, equality and solidarity.

For information media. Not an official record.