Painting of Dido Belle with her cousin Elizabeth, attributed to Johann Zoffany
While doing research last year, I came across Dido Belle, the black female aristocrat born in the 1700's.
She has come to inspire me greatly not only because of her immense beauty and bravery, but also her intriguing story. Her mere existence changed the world more than we know.
Below is an extract from The Evening Standard:
'In 1772, when Belle was around 11, her great-uncle made a ruling that would change history and eventually lead to abolition in 1833. In the Somerset slavery case, he declared that slavery was unsupported by existing law in England and a master could not export British slaves. Then in 1781 he presided over the Zong Massacre case — when 142 African slaves were hurled from a ship and drowned so that their owners could claim insurance for “damaged cargo”. In a major blow to slave traders, Mansfield ruled that the slave owners could not claim money.'
Painted by Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789)
My sister told me a couple of days ago that my obsession with slavery movies disturbs her. Name it, I've watched it. She then went on to chant slave songs in jest. I'm not an activist in any way, I'm just really trying to understand what went on. Movies like '12 years a slave' might seem deep but I'm sure they don't even depict a fraction of what happened. It's more of an interest to me but it also makes me appreciate freedom that little bit more.
This ain't no human rights blog though!