Slavery made the modern world. It transformed the economies of the West and the demography of the globe. It was one of the biggest movements of people in all of history.
On the charge sheet of human history, few things create such an indelible stain as slavery. The idea that one human is treated as the property of another is deeply at odds with today’s world. Yet, until the lives of our great-grandparents, slavery drove the wealth of countries that today see themselves at the forefront of equality.
Even today some of the richest people and wealthiest corporations owe their fortune to slavery. For many, the profound legacy of this history is deeply personal.
While the enslaved were rarely in a position to keep records of their lives, developments in recent years have made it possible to find out more about individual lives of the enslaved. Collecting together artefacts, slave records, testimonies and accounts, and the ledgers of departure and arrival, a richer picture can be painted.
This series invites a number of famous individuals, including actor David Harewood (Homeland), Rachel Johnson (sister of the British Prime Minister), actor Ray Fearon (Fleabag), actor Hugh Quarshie (Star Wars) and musical legend Karen Gibson (wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) to explore their heritage. Other contributors include Sir Lenny Henry, Sir Trevor McDonald, Noel Clarke and Ben Bailey Smith.
With breath-taking locations, living communities, cutting-edge archaeology and lost connections linking people today, they explore their own personal links to the story of slavery, providing a model to the audience of how to explore their own ancestry.