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Emancipation Day 2022

What is Emancipation Day?

Emancipation Day is the day when the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 became law across the British Empire, including Canada on August 1st, 1834. On this day, the practice of slavery officially ended for millions of African people and their descendants in former British colonies and more than 800,000 people were ‘freed’ after the deed was passed through parliament.

A Brief History

On 1 August 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed, which outlawed slavery in most British colonies including Canada. More than 800,000 people were freed after the deed was passed through parliament.

The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1807, outlawed the slave trade after centuries of activism but this did nothing to free the existing enslaved workforce in the British empire. But during the 1820s and early 1830s, a strong network of women’s anti-slavery associations developed.

In 1823, religious groups, politicians and supporters from around the country came together to form the Anti-Slavery Society. Ultimately, this resulted in the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act finally being passed, meaning that from then on, it would be illegal for people, largely of the Black community, and their descendants to be bought, sold or kept in slavery.

Fast forward to the present day, many of Britain’s former colonies celebrate the first day of August as Emancipation Day with either a bank holiday or a day of cultural activities. Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines all have an official commemoration.


Want to learn more?

Here at soaring stars education, we teach black history and specialise in black British history. You can find out more by joining our Saturday school here or visiting our store where we publish black history learning resources.

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