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William Wilberforce
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Wilberforce logoWilberforce 2007

In 2007, Hull was at the centre of the world’s bicentennial celebrations to commemorate and celebrate the life and legacy of Hull’s most famous son, William Wilberforce.

We took the opportunity to celebrate our city’s heritage, the achievements of the abolitionist movement and, of course, William Wilberforce. As William Wilberforce's birthplace, Hull was proud to be the focal point of commemorations across the world.

We also wanted to raise awareness about modern day slavery because, despite the tireless work of Wilberforce and his peers 200 years ago, slavery exists in modern forms today. A conservative estimate believes there are 27 million slaves worldwide.


Slavery still exists today

Slavery today

Modern-day human rights campaigners point out that Wilberforce’s work is far from over.

It’s estimated that there are more than 27 million slaves in the world today - and that includes people in forced labour, women and girls trafficked for work in the sex industry, and children kidnapped and brutalised to be used as soldiers.

It’s hoped the Wilberforce 2007 programme will highlight the suffering of modern slaves and look at ways of lobbying to bring contemporary slavery to an end.

Hull - a city of freedom

We have a history of involvement in human rights issues. This year, we helped to open the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) on Hull’s High Street, next to Wilberforce House museum.
 
Run by the University of Hull, WISE is the world’s first institute dedicated to researching the history of slavery, and will also pursue research into modern human rights issues.

Hull was also the first council in Britain to sign up to the world human rights organisation Amnesty International. World leaders Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, renowned for their work in human rights, are also Freemen of the city.

In 1982, Hull became the first city in the western world to twin with a third world city - Freetown in Sierra Leone, which was the world’s first colony for free Africans. It was set up in 1792 by Wilberforce and his fellow anti-slavery campaigners. 

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