Led by Gilly Love, who is involved with a number of local choirs, the ‘Resisting slavery with words and music’ events will take place at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre on Friday and Saturday 1 and 2 November, both starting at 7.30pm.
Tickets, available from the Old Low Light, are £10 (price includes a £2 donation to Anti-Slavery International UK). Doors will be open from 6.30pm, as will the café and bar and people will also have the opportunity to visit the exhibition.
Readings will include poems and quotations from the 19th century to the present day including from Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists. The music will cover a wide range from spirituals to songs from the civil rights movement and new compositions highlighting modern slavery.
Breaking Chains which will run until 22 December tells the story of an escaped enslaved American woman, Mary Macham, who became part of the 19th century local community and the part played by key local families in the abolitionist movement. In 1830 she risked her life by escaping from a farm in Virginia and stowed away in the hold of a ship. She endured months at sea before eventually travelling by road to North Shields where she was met and looked after by representatives of the Spence family who were well-known local business people and Quakers. She married a local man and enjoyed more than 60 years of freedom before her death in 1893, aged 91. She is buried in Preston Cemetery in an unmarked grave.
Gilly Love said: “The singers have come together through a joint desire to support the exhibition and also to highlight the human abuse of slavery, historically and currently. Sadly we are mindful that a different kind of slavery is still all around us with many people still facing intolerable oppression in their everyday lives.”