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Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)

Sonia Baron - Making our Mark: Remembrance, Repentance and Restoration in 2007


CMEAC, established by the Archbishops' Council, has been commissioned to respond creatively to the national call to examine, explore and acknowledge the legacy and histories of slavery in British history. As yet there are no substantial and accessible resources on the Church of England's multi-faceted role in this destructive and unjust aspect of our past.

The Church included both slave owners and abolitionists, and the time has come to face up formally and fully to the consequences of Anglicanism's part in the slave trade. CMEAC's role in the Church of England is to address issues that arise, or that ought to arise, regarding minority ethnic people in the Church. The Committee is well-positioned to carry out work that will illuminate the Church's past, acknowledge the persistence of slavery's legacy in the present, and commit the Church to a future of empowering and enabling minority ethnic people throughout diverse, modern Britain to strive for justice and claim their histories. Making Our Mark: Remembrance, Repentance and Restoration in 2007 is the Church of England's official response to the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

Making Our Mark is a wide-ranging national project with two main strands. The first is the set of regional dialogues, the Bicentenary Hearings. The Hearings are an opportunity for stories and experiences of slavery and historical understanding to be expressed. Participants will be invited to engage with slavery first through a researched local historical presentation, which will use heritage to springboard exploratory dialogue.

The second strand of the project was the Walk of Witness, a heritage trail through London on 24 March 2007. Participants included government representatives, leaders in the Church of England, social justice organizations, ecumenical and multi-faith partners, and schools. To ensure that the walk was linked to slavery in Britain's history and the need for remembrance in order to acknowledge the past and claim a better future, we collaborated with numerous artists, performers, speakers, and historical parishes along the route.

The Hearings and the Walk work together to ensure that Making Our Mark does make the widest and most positive mark possible. In researching collections, connecting with local communities, and inspiring participants, we will be raising awareness of the legacy of enslavement and opening up access to heritage so that it can come alive for all who choose to journey with us.

A pack will be produced for schools and will include photographs and a DVD with footage from the Walk and Hearings, providing an educational tool for teachers and other educators.