Slavery Memorial - United Nations, N.Y. – Entry -2012 –‘Fragments of a Tragedy’

Slavery Memorial - United Nations, N.Y. – Entry -2012 –‘Fragments of a Tragedy’


Charge: An international competition was launched by the UN General Assembly to submit designs for the creation of a Permanent Memorial at the United Nations Headquarters to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

It was formally titled: The Permanent Memorial at the United Nations to Honour the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade and the accompanying theme was: “Acknowledging the Tragedy; Considering the Legacy; Lest We Forget”.

Concept: A quotation from the book by Jamaican born Associate Professor, Anne C. Bailey gave insight into the theme and also provided the visual concept for our proposal.
“……All that remains are fragments, which, like the scattered pieces of a broken vase, do not represent the whole. Under the silence are palpable sighs of regret, pain, sorrow, guilt and shame”.

It is the imagery of these fragments, these shards, brought to life by Professor Bailey that represent pieces of a story, which, when fully told, finally confronts us with the magnitude of this tragedy and also honors the lives of those who did not survive it. This evolving story, equally serves as a medium to educate future generations about the legacy of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave trade.



by Susan Brewster Taylor
Across the earth's smooth surface
Outlines of sails against the sun's rays,
A cruel voyage repeated again and again
Over centuries,
Carves in its wake a triangle of horror,
A triangle bringing together three continents in a deceitful partnership,
In the name of trade.
A dark stain on our global consciousness.
Lest we forget.
Ghost like in their appearance,
Hover the proud forms of those who suffered,
Of those who lost their lives…
They are made faceless, nameless, silent,
Denied of their humanity,
Held captive in the 'unholy triangle'.
The forms are but fragments of a terrible story,
Many sided and, to date, not fully known.
Into their softly reflecting surfaces,
We too step into their story, become part of their suffering.
From the rods holding them in cruel bondage,
Death is a welcome escape.
Brittle shards of pain looming above us,
The fragmented forms revolve in an eternal, eerie dance,
Mirroring each other, mirroring us,
From the tallest to the smallest,
The weakest to the strongest,
Our legacy from generation to generation.
Lest we forget.