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The Sons of Africa – petitions against the slave trade
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The campaign for the abolition of slavery is sometimes seen as a largely white movement. In fact, as groups of white Quakers were petitioning Parliament against the slave trade in the 1780's a group of black men came together to do the same thing. They included Olaudah Equiano , Ottobah Cugoano and at least ten others. Calling themselves the “Sons of Africa”, they carried out public-speaking and letter-writing campaigns, visited parliament and made public appeals in print.

The group were not radicals: they wrote with great politeness to Sharp, Pitt and other members of the white abolition movement, expressing their thanks for all that the movement had done for “the much-wronged people of Africa” and told Sharp, on behalf of black people in England, that they “were considered as slaves, even in England itself, till your aid and exertion set us free”. But the Sons of Africa also campaigned against slavery on their own account. Cugoano also wrote personally to the king and the Prince of Wales, and argued that all slavery should be abolished at once, and Equiano became well-known for his reviews and letters in reply to racist articles in the newspaper The Public Advertiser. The very argumentative skill of these writers was a powerful antidote to the pro-slavery claims that black people were too stupid to be educated, and only fit to do manual work. After one of Olaudah Equiano's letters to the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, the paper's editor added his own note:

“We cannot but think the letter a good argument in favour of the natural

Abilities, as well as good feelings, of the Negro Race, and a solid answer in their favour.”




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