The Bristol Middle Passage Port Marker Project Chooses Location for Memorial

Residents set out to acknowledge and memorialize victims of the slave trade


Independence Park in Bristol is slated to be the site of a new memorial acknowledging a grim chapter of the town’s past. The Bristol Middle Passage Port Marker Project (BMPPM) is in the process of working with the Town Council to build a marker reckoning with Bristol’s involvement in the slave trade and memorializing those harmed by it.

“While the trade of Africans and slavery are traditionally associated with America’s southern states, Bristol was, in fact, a significant participant in what is known as the Triangle Trade (or the Trans-Atlantic Human Trade),” says BMPPM committee member Keith Maloney, explaining that over 100 ships leaving Bristol ports were involved. 

“Bristol’s economy was built upon this trade,” he continues. “The town’s residents owned the banks and insurance companies that financed these voyages. They built the ships, made the sails, fashioned the casks, wove the ropes, even grew the food necessary to support their fellow residents who traveled on these ships for months at a time.”

Bristol isn’t alone in its efforts to memorialize victims of the Triangle Trade, and it’s one of 43 UNESCO-documented Middle Passage locations (including Newport and Warren) across the country. “As Bristol is among the largest of these sites in terms of the number of voyages and people transported during the trade, the Bristol MPPMP stands firm in its commitment to telling the whole story of the town’s past,” says Maloney. “This effort will recognize the impact this trade had on the economy of Bristol, on all those who profited from it, and on all those who suffered under it. It will be an opportunity for reconciliation and healing.”

To learn more or donate to the effort, visit Facebook: Bristol, RI Middle Passage Project Committee. 


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