Trail tracing American Black abolitionists historical footprints in Kirklees

photos of Black Abolitionists Sarah Parker Remond and Henry ‘Box’ Brown.

The movement to end the transatlantic slave trade is well documented but few people may know that during the nineteenth century, Black abolitionists campaigned in what is today known as Kirklees.

Join historian from Queen Many University, London

Dr Hannah-Rose Murray, Historian at Queen Mary University of London will visit Dewsbury Library on Saturday 18 November to discuss lecturing tours made by Black abolitionists in Dewsbury and will include a visit to Dewsbury Elim Church. It is believed that Black Abolitionists Sarah Parker Remond and Henry ‘Box’ Brown addressed audiences here during the 1850’s.

A collaborative project

A historical trail highlighting abolitionists who brought social justice campaigns to Kirklees and funds for the anti-slavery movement has been organised by Kirklees Libraries, the council’s BAME Network and Community Cohesion Teams. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Locala Health and Wellbeing and Dewsbury Elim Church have also been involved with the generous support of Dr Murray.

The event will start at Dewsbury Library at 10:30am where Dr Murray will give an overview of the Black abolitionists who toured Britain in the 19th century, with a particular focus on those who visited Kirklees. It will be followed by a short, guided walk at midday from the library to Dewsbury Elim Church.

Councillor Paul Davies, Cabinet Member for Corporate said:

“Kirklees Libraries are often at the forefront of activities that make a real difference in communities. This collaboration and the insight given by historian Dr Hannah-Rose Murray, gives residents an opportunity to learn how the struggle to end the slave trade was fought in Dewsbury, when abolitionists arrived in the nineteenth century.  By understanding the challenges of our communities in the past, we can help to build stronger and more cohesive communities today.”

Dr Hannah-Rose Murray, Queen Mary University of London, said:

“I am delighted to be working once again, with Kirklees Libraries and partners and I am beyond thrilled to be visiting the area for the first time. I am looking forward to meeting Kirklees residents to discuss and share the amazing historical links Dewsbury has and place these important lecturing tours with other reform movements across Britain as a whole.”

Karen Ashmeade, Locala Learning and Development Educator and Race Equality Network Chair said:

“Locala is excited to be part of this important opportunity to share knowledge and educate. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass once said, ‘Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.’ Knowledge also has the power to help us all understand how people’s background, culture and community can influence their past experiences, future aspirations. and relationships and helps unite communities.”

Book tickets for this free event

The event is free, but places are limited so people should book online:

There will also be a special e-book collection of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry available online from Kirklees Libraries.


Watch these short videos from partners talking about the 2021 virtual tour.