More than 150 years after the abolition of slavery, the United Nations has unveiled a memorial in New York City honoring the 15 million Africans who were victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Calling slavery one of the “darkest and most abhorrent chapters in history,” UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa revealed the memorial—Ark of Return—yesterday afternoon.
“The majority of the victims of this brutal, primitive trade in human beings remain unnamed and unknown,” he said during the ceremony. “Nevertheless, their dignity and courage was boundless and worthy of this honor and tribute.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was also present at the unveiling, said that he hoped that descendants of enslaved Africans would feel empowered by the memorial. Both he and other UN officials encouraged global citizens to take a stand against today’s slave trade, in which more than 20 million people around the world are victims of forced labor.
“This memorial is a symbol of our determination to pay tribute to these people and their resistance to the slave trade,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. “And this memorial is an act of remembrance but it is also a call to action, embodying the principles at the heart of the UN.”