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Bells Unbound !
At Noon on Sunday 25th March 2007 there was a world-wide ringing commemoration of the exact moment the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act became law in 1807. This was your Call to Action for a world-wide ring of Freedom!! The deed still resonates – the crime still happens. Join us and tell us what you did!!
Bells Unbound took place at the precise moment (midday) that George III signed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 200 years ago. Bells Unbound is a commemoration of slaves, a celebration of this resonant act - and a wake-up call for the world today.
Bells Unbound invited you to get ringing, get thinking, get involved. At noon on 25th March bells sounded - in Churches, on bicycles, on front doors, the sturdy calves of Morris dancers and world-wide everywhere that bells hang out! This was your moment to find a bell - expand the concept - make the moment yours and make it ring!
In Bristol, a city whose involvement in the slave trade created great prosperity, The Pierian Centre and Bristol City Churches united in Bells Unbound to commemorate the lives crushed by slavery - to celebrate the attempt to end the Trade - and to issue a wake-up call to alert the world to the existence of modern forms of slavery. We wanted Bells Unbound to be both solemn and celebratory but we also wanted it to be involving. We wanted everyone in every corner of the land, in every corner of the globe, to rack their brains for ways to make the occasion "ring". What were your ideas? Let us know!
It was also a moment to reflect on how far we still have to go to realise the dream that Martin Luther King had 44 years ago.
"From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
We also have a dream - to have freedom ring round the world at noon (local time) on Sunday 25th March 2007. At noon we rang bells - church bells, handbells, gongs, bells on morris dancers, bells in pubs and on bicycles. You joined us to ring them loud for 5 minutes in a ring of Freedom around the world. Tell everyone and anyone you know!! We talked to heads of churches and all religions (this is very much a non-denominational event), local groups of all sorts, and we wanted to expand it to an international initiative about an issue which many simply ignore. Slavery is in our sights this year as an historical barbarity, but the practice has not stopped simply because an Act was passed 200 years ago. Slavery has changed its shape and become part of our modern world.
The aim is to raise awareness and raise our spirits – to celebrate and reflect. The achievements of the past need acknowledgement, but they also need scrutiny. The practices of the present need close examination. The Slave Trade may be illegal, but are we living in a world where consumers and the wealthy still profit from slave-like terms of trade? Bells Unbound, an attempt to make thought and action ring round the country – to synchronize a mass marking of a moment in the past and how it resonates today. An act of physical and imaginative participation, for bells to ring, bells of every type – and rack your brains to see the chains that still enslave so many around the world.
Bells Unbound was part of a weekend of events at the Pierian Centre. An art exhibition Slavery, Power and Freedom ran from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th March. The launch of Satan's Kingdom - Bristol and the Transatlantic Slave Trade a new book by Pip Jones, took place at 6.30pm on the Saturday. The book launch is followed at 7.30pm by a Public Discussion Abolition – or just a change of Chains? led by a panel of provocative speakers. And at noon on the Sunday, while St Stephens, St Mary Redcliffe & Bristol Cathedral each rang a peal, at the Pierian Centre itself it was "bring a bell" - any bell - at 11.45am in time for the mass ding-a-ling at noon.
Bells Unbound rang out from the Pierian Centre, Bristol City Churches - and a million other centres of celebration. And at 3pm Bristol Cathedral held a special service of Commemoration.
The Bells! The Bells!
You found any type of bell and rang it at 12 Noon on Sunday 25th March 2007.
You picked up your cowbells or borrowed one from a friend!
You rang them until the cows come home!
A World Wide Ring Of Freedom
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