THE impact of the slave trade on both sides of the Atlantic was the subject of a library event.
People from across Sunderland came together for the event at the city library as part of Black History Month.
Sunderland and Washington DC are involved in a joint project on history and emancipation as part of the Friendship Agreement, renewed earlier this year.
The project builds on the US capital’s anniversary programme which focuses on the American Civil War, civil rights, DC Emancipation movements and the struggle for freedom, justice, liberty and equality.
It now includes links to activities in Sunderland, one of which was pupils from Oxclose School writing essays on emancipation, just as schools in Washington DC have done.
They were then judged by archivists and historians in America.
Councillor Iain Kay, Mayor of Sunderland, went along to the library event to present the winning essay writers with their certificates which were sent over from the states.
He said: “Black History Month is really important.
“We can sometimes forget the ways in which slavery affected both our cities and countries.
“But this programme of activities gives us all an opportunity to reflect and to consider our own involvement in slavery in the past – as well as the ongoing struggle for equality, liberty and justice in the UK and around the world.”
He added: “The opportunity for young people here in Sunderland and Washington DC to study topics such as these, helps give people in both cities a greater appreciation and understanding of our own individual and shared heritage.”
Guests at the presentation event also heard a reading from author John Charlton.
It was an excerpt from his latest book Hidden Chains: The Slavery Business and North East England.
Richard Cook, who is one of the first two students from the University of Sunderland to spend a semester at the University of the District of Columbia through the scholarship programme between the cities’ universities, was also talking to people at the special event.
Earlier this year, he studied history and politics in the American capital.
While there, Richard had the opportunity to attend the official opening of the Martin Luther King Memorial.