The Guadeloupe Islands

Every now and again, you go somewhere that changes you and your worldview. The Guadeloupe Islands’ Mémorial ACTe Slavery Museum in Pointe-à-Pitre is such a place. It is the largest museum on the planet dedicated to the memory and history of the slave trade and slavery from the early 17th century to today. The 77,000-square-foot complex, which opened in 2015, is located on the site of the former Darboussier sugar factory and is an architectural wonder. The black box housing the permanent exhibition represents the treasure house that the knowledge of one’s past provides. The tiny quartz specks in the black granite honor millions of victims of the slave trade and slavery.

The Guadeloupe Islands Photo Gallery

The silver latticework symbolizes the development of intertwined beginnings. As fascinating as the façade is, the works inside are powerful and stir deep emotion. When you see the replica of a slave ship stuffed with hundreds of people side by side with barely room to breathe or lift a chain that once was on someone’s neck and it’s so heavy your hand pulls downward, the tears may flow. You could spend days in the museum.

It is comprehensive, interactive and educational. It is part of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project, a global initiative to promote healing and harmony of people through the shared legacy of slavery. There is a temporary exhibition space devoted to all facets of contemporary artistic creations, a genealogy research center, media library and documentary resource center, conference and performance arts theater, open-air terrace space for events and two restaurants. In the gift shop, pick up the book Mémorial ACTe: Exploring Slavery and the African Slave Trade in the Caribbean and Around the World for great detail about the exhibits. In the introduction, Victorin Lurel, president of the Guadeloupe Region, writes that because black slavery was such a colossal crime against humanity and did lasting damage, increased awareness is needed of the history, not only to bear witness to the atrocities committed but also to restore our ancestors’ humanity and pay tribute to their enduring resistance.

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