London Will Honor the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade With a New Memorial in the Docklands

London is planning to unveil the U.K.’s first memorial commemorating the victims of transatlantic slave trade.  The city is aiming to have it ready for the public it in the summer of 2026, according to mayor Sadig Khan.

The memorial was announced ahead of Saturday’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

The new monument will be located at West India Quay in London Docklands, which has a strong link to the history of the trade.  It will also recognize the role the U.K. capital played in the trade that has impacted “generations of Black communities in London, across Britain and around the world,” Khan noted in a statement on Friday.

The city, which is committing £500,000 ($613,507) to develop the memorial, played a fundamental role in the organization and funding of the trade; in London and elsewhere in the U.K. there are monuments commemorating its abolition, but also statues and buildings that reflect the wealth and power it created. In 2020, a statue of London-based slave trader Robert Milligan was removed and is now in the storage of the Museum of London’s collection.

The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm set up by Khan will start to develop an artistic brief of the memorial in summer. The artist to design the memorial will be chosen through an open competition.

slave trade london

Municipal workers remove the statue of slave-owner and slave merchant Robert Milligan after a petition in West India Quay district of London, United Kingdom on June 9, 2020. Photo: Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The memorial fulfills the mayor’s pledge to support a memorial and educational programs related to the trade and the victims. “We do not have a dedicated memorial in our capital to honor the millions of enslaved people who suffered and died as a result of this barbaric practice,” noted Khan.

“It is vital that our public spaces reflect the heritage of our great city—in all its diversity and complexity. This memorial will help commemorate the victims of a dark, yet formative chapter of our history.”

Working in partnership with the Canal & River Trust and the Museum of London Docklands, the new memorial will be located near the museum, which is in the area that is home to warehouses built to receive products of slavery. A number of “satellite sites” will be built across the capital to accompany this new memorial, with an aim to connect different threads of slavery stories.

Debbie Weekes-Bernard, deputy mayor for communities and justice, noted on Friday that the memorial will serve as an opportunity to open up discussion about how this “very dark period of our history is actually a part of London’s story.”

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A Florida School Focused on Classical Western Civilization Fired a Principal Over a Lesson Showing Michelangelo’s ‘David’

The latest education outrage out of Florida? A Tallahassee school board fired a principal after parents complained about a “pornographic” lesson featuring Michelangelo’s David (1501–04), the 14-foot-tall nude marble Renaissance masterpiece.

The monumental sculpture, today housed at Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, is one of art history’s most iconic artworks—but that didn’t help save Hope Carrasquilla’s job at Tallahassee Classical School when parents objected to its inclusion in a lesson for the sixth-grade class.

Following the controversy, Barney Bishop, the chair of the school board, demanded her resignation, which Carrasquilla tendered on Monday during an emergency board meeting. The board named teacher Cara Wynn as her successor.

“It saddens me that my time here had to end this way,” Carrasquilla, who had held her post since the beginning of the school year, told the Tallahassee Democrat, which first reported her ouster.

Michelangelo's masterpiece David at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images.

Michelangelo’s masterpiece David at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images.

Tallahassee Classical, a kindergarten through grade 10 charter school, has gone through three principals since opening in the fall of 2020. It is affiliated with Hillsdale College, a private conservative college in Michigan that has designed a “classical education curriculum model” billed as a return to the foundational tenets of Western civilization.

After a decade in “classical education,” Carrasquilla knew that “once in a while you get a parent who gets upset about Renaissance art,” she told the Huff Post. But she never thought she would lose her job over it. (Bishop, the board chair, has insisted in various news outlets that there were other issues that more directly led to Carrasquilla’s forced resignation.)

Parents had not been informed that the teacher would be including David in instruction about Renaissance art—a violation of a rule put in place two months ago by the school board requiring teachers notify families of “potentially controversial” lesson content two weeks ahead of time.

By not sending out notice, “we made an egregious mistake,” Bishop told Slate.

He clarified that one of the parents was upset that the teacher had allegedly told children that the sculpture was “non-pornography” and that they shouldn’t to tell their parents about it.

“Non-pornography—that’s a red flag. And of course telling the students, ‘Don’t tell your parents’—that’s a huge red flag!” Bishop said. “That word is inappropriate in that classroom.… you don’t need to be saying that word in a classroom in Florida!”

Florida, of course, has become a flashpoint for conservative education legislation under Governor Ron DeSantis, such as the Parental Rights in Education Act, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” act, which limits teachers’ ability to discuss anything related to sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms. Another bill banned the teaching of critical race theory in kindergarten through grade 12.

“We agree with everything the governor is doing in the educational arena. We support him because he’s right,” Bishop told the Independent, claiming that Tallahassee Classical was at the “cutting edge” when it came to Florida’s new educational standards.

Only three parents objected to the David, two on the grounds that there was no advance warning, the other out of concern that the full frontal nudity was not appropriate viewing for sixth graders. But that was still a major problem for the Tallahassee Classical board.

“Parental rights trump everything else,” Bishop told Huff Post, noting that the school had been founded in response to the “woke indoctrination that was going on.”

“Parents choose this school because they want a certain kind of education,” he added in Slate. “We’re not gonna have courses from the College Board. We’re not gonna teach 1619 or CRT [critical race theory] crap.”

The unexpected controversy surrounding perhaps the world’s most famous sculpture mirrors a plot point in a 1990 episode of the Simpsons. After successfully protesting the violence in the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons, Marge Simpson is solicited to help block a local exhibition of David, which detractors dub an “abomination” for its depiction of “evil” body parts. Marge, on the other hand, thinks the statue is a masterpiece that everyone in Springfield should see.

This isn’t the first time that the satire of the “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” episode has hewed closely to real life events—in 2016, a Russian woman started a campaign to add clothes to a 16-foot-tall plastic copy of David on view in St. Petersburg. And, in 2021, a 3-D-printed copy of the work was displayed with strategic barriers blocking the genitals from view at the Italian pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

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Artists Decry an Idaho College’s ‘Alarming’ Removal of Artworks Centered on Reproductive Rights From a Group Show on Healthcare

School officials removed half a dozen artworks from a show at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts and History, a public college in Idaho, because of references to abortion and related reproductive health issues. The show, titled “Unconditional Care,” opened just days ago, on March 3, and is intended as an exploration of “today’s biggest health issues and… stories and concerns of those directly impacted by those issues,” according to an earlier show statement on the school’s website.

It examines topics such as chronic illness, disability, pregnancy, sexual assault, and gun violence including related deaths. A mix of local and international artists are featured in the exhibition, many of whom share their personal experiences through film, audio, mixed media, paintings, and photography.

The works that have been removed from the show include a series of four documentary videos from artist Lydia Nobles, in which individual women share diverse experiences around reproductive rights and pregnancy; a 2023 piece by Michelle Hartney, which is a handwritten copy of one of the 250,000 letters addressed to Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and received in the 1920s mostly from mothers who were begging for information about birth control; and a 2015 embroidery work from artist Katrina Majkut titled Medical Abortion that depicts Mifepristone and Misoprostol, two prescriptions taken together in sequence to end an early pregnancy.

The college did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement released to other publications, a spokesperson said of the censorship of the show: “After obtaining legal advice, per Idaho Code Section 18-8705, some of the proposed exhibits could not be included in the exhibition.”

Section 18-8705 is part of the No Public Funds for Abortion Act (NPFAA) that was passed by Idaho’s Republican legislature in 2021, months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion.

Majkut is not only a participating artist, but also a guest curator of the show. She told Midnight Publishing Group News that in her 10 years of extensive work with colleges, in particular, she always strives to be bipartisan and objective, while encouraging dialogue and educating viewers. “It’s always been a positive experience. I’ve never heard one peep about discontent. And I’ve never been censored,” she said in a phone interview.

As she and a gallery staffer were developing ideas around the show last fall she was invited to be a curator. “I decided I would do it about the most topical health issues in the United States, as it’s on everyones mind. My goal was to approach these hot topic issues in a very level-headed, factual way,” she said.I was avoiding protest art. I wanted art that got to the heart of the issue either medically or through personal stories, especially by people directly affected by those health issues.”

Medical Abortion (2015), an embroidery by Katrina Majkut was removed from the show titled "Unconditional Care" at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idago. Image courtesy Katrina Majkut.

Medical Abortion (2015), an embroidery by Katrina Majkut was removed from the show titled “Unconditional Care” at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idago. Image courtesy Katrina Majkut.

Majkut said her work was removed on March 2, a day before the exhibition opened and after giving administrators a tour of the entire show. When informed of their decision to remove the work, Majkut suggested several alternatives including “some sort of presence, even if it just [a statement that reads] ‘this artwork was removed in accordance with the law.’ I said that I wanted the wall text up even if I can’t have the artwork because it literally reiterates Idaho’s own law to the students. That was a no-go. It’s an educational setting, but I was told directly in person that the wall text wasn’t okay.” Majkut said she has dozens of other artworks that remain in the show.

Meanwhile, representatives from the ACLU penned a detailed letter to college president Cynthia Pemberton objecting to the removal of Nobles’s works and asking that they be reinstated.

The letter is signed by Elizabeth Larison, director of the arts and culture advocacy program of the National Coalition Against Censorship; by Scarlet Kim, senior staff attorney for speech, privacy and technology project of the ACLU, and Leo Morales, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho.

Stills from Lydia Noble's documentary series “As I Sit Waiting,” that were removed from the show 'Unconditional Care' at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History in Idaho. Image courtesy Lydia Noble.

Stills from Lydia Nobles’s documentary series “As I Sit Waiting,” which was removed from the show “Unconditional Care” at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History in Idaho. Image courtesy Lydia Nobles.

They expressed “alarm” at the removal of Nobles’s videos.

“The College’s interpretation of the NPFAA—that it applies to works of art depicting the discussion of abortion—demonstrates the potential abuses of the Act,” the letter read. “As the Supreme Court recognized 80 years ago, ‘[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion…’ The College’s decision threatens this bedrock First Amendment principle by censoring Nobles’s important work and denying visitors of the center the opportunity to view, consider, and discuss it.”

“Institutions of higher education are responsible for presenting students with an array of viewpoints and fostering among them a sense of academic curiosity and intellectual engagement,” it continued. “We urge the College to reconsider this censorship and permit these works to be shown as part of ‘Unconditional Care.’”

Additionally, Kirsten Shahverdian, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, has likewise condemned the decision as “a slap in the face to academic and artistic freedom.” In a statement, she added: “Banning these artworks signals to people—especially women—that they must silence themselves and their experiences when it comes to any aspect of reproductive or sexual health, stripping them of their fundamental rights to free expression.”

Nobles said after Majkut invited her to exhibit work from her series, “As I Sit Waiting,” they worked together between mid December 2022 and January 2023 to select four accounts that share diverse experiences around reproductive rights and pregnancy.

“The selected documentaries are that of DeZ’ah, Blair, Cat, and Claudia,” said Nobles. “The gallerist and I were working together to figure out installation, and they even painted the wall a light purple to coincide with my ideal installation. All seemed to being going well—that is, until I received an email from the school.”

According to Nobles, the email stated: “Upon review of submitted work for the upcoming Center for Arts and History exhibit ‘Unconditional Care,’ after consulting with legal counsel and based on current Idaho Law (Idaho Code 18-8705), your proposed exhibit cannot be included.”

Nobles said she asked for further clarification about what exactly in her documentaries violated the law, but she did not receive a response.

“It was also alarming that the language in the email shifted, suggesting that these were just proposed works, when in fact they were installed already; besides slight remaining details,” she said. “The email from the school was particularly odd because I went to great efforts to frame these films as unbiased as I could. I didn’t want to know too much about the participant’s story beforehand. I also wanted the interviews to be memory-based and without an agenda. So to hear that the school thinks that these stories are violating this law, I was pretty confused.”

Artwork by Michelle Hartney that was removed from "Unconditional Care" at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idaho. Image courtesy Michelle Hartney.

Artwork by Michelle Hartney that was removed from “Unconditional Care” at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, in Idaho. Image courtesy Michelle Hartney.

“The censorship of my piece is extra alarming because it comes from a letter that was written 100 years ago by a desperate mom,” Hartney told Midnight Publishing Group News of the removal her letter-based work.

“I feel compelled, through this project, to make sure the stories and pleas from these mothers from the past are not forgotten, so folks can see where we were 100 years ago when there was no access to birth control, and so they can read firsthand accounts from over 250,000 people, what happens to a person when their right to control their own destiny is taken away.”


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France’s Ministry of Culture Is Pushing Forward a Trio of Groundbreaking Laws That May Have Sweeping Effects on Restitution

French politicians are planning to introduce three framework laws intended to facilitate the restitution of contentious artworks as well as human remains currently held within the country’s public collections. 

The trio of bills was announced by France’s ministry of culture this week. In what would be a first, one of the bills also offers an opportunity to legally acknowledge crimes committed against Jews during World War 2 by the French state, according to a French senator involved in drafting the bills.

Ever since French president Emmanuel Macron made the sweeping 2017 pledge to return African artifacts to the continent, in an attempt to ease relations with former French colonies, a waiting game has ensued; so far, 26 objects stolen from the ancient Palace of Abomey in Benin were restituted to the African country; one object was returned to Senegal; another is on long-term loan to Madagascar. Compared to other European countries, France is considered to be lagging behind on the issue of restitution, despite Macron’s groundbreaking promise. According to the 2018 Sarr-Savoy report on restitution, France has an estimated 90,000 African artifacts in its public museums.

A visitor goes through the exhibition "Art of Benin of yesterday and today: from Restitution to Revelation" at the Marina Palace of Cotonou on July 27, 2022. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

A visitor goes through the exhibition “Art of Benin of yesterday and today: from Restitution to Revelation” at the Marina Palace of Cotonou on July 27, 2022. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Though parliament voted in favor of returning individual works, progress has been marred by disagreement over procedures for larger-scale returns, and by the fact that objects entering France’s national collection are deemed inalienable by law, meaning that they can only be removed in case-by-case parliamentary votes.

“I hope 2023 will be a year of decisive progress for restitutions,” said French culture minister Rima Abdul Malak in her annual, New Year speech on Monday, January 16. The country’s approach to its own history is “neither one of denial nor of repentance, but one of recognition,” she added. Earlier, Abdul Malak announced the laws would be up for vote this year, making it possible to return an artwork as well as human remains currently in the national collection, without having to revert to parliament for approval, accelerating the process.

The laws will target human remains in museums, an amended version of an earlier bill proposed last year by French senators; another will address works belonging to Jewish families persecuted during the Nazi era; the third considers restitution of art objects, including those from the colonial era. The latter bill is spearheaded by former Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez and notably addresses the return of art objects to Africa, among others. Martinez’s duties as France’s cultural heritage ambassador were reduced after being charged with “complicity” in organized fraud and money laundering in connection to a global art trafficking scandal. 

Growing public awareness around the issue of restitution has spurred this week’s announcement. The minister of culture “is very mobilized on the issue, which is a major change,” according to senator and vice president of a senatorial commission on culture, education and communication Pierre Ouzoulias, who has helped push restitution efforts.

French Culture Minister Rima Abdul-Malak arrives for the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new cabinet at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France, on May 23, 2022. Photo: Gao Jing/Xinhua via Getty Images.

French Culture Minister Rima Abdul-Malak arrives for the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new cabinet at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France, on May 23, 2022. Photo: Gao Jing/Xinhua via Getty Images.

With senators Catherine Morin-Desailly and Max Brisson, Ouzoulias proposed a bill in 2021 that was unanimously approved by the senate, to return human remains, but it was blocked by members of Macron’s administration at the time. The amended bill is likely to be put to vote before June. Morin-Desailly, who will present it, said that with continued, increasing demands from foreign nations asking for restitutions, “we’re at a critical point of no-return.” 

In separate interviews, Morin-Desailly and Ouzoulias both noted that the new laws would entail special committees of scientific and legal experts that would include counterparts from the countries requesting restitution. Together, they would determine if an object meets criteria needed to remove it from France’s national collections. Once that conclusion is made, the sitting administration would decide whether or not to return an object, without having to revert to parliament as it does now.

The government will also need to streamline a plan to catalog objects of questionable provenance in French museums, particularly human remains, the total number of which are not known.

The framework law concerning cultural goods seized during France’s Vichy government is also an opportunity to state within law the crimes the French state committed against Jews during World War 2, as justification for the return of an object, said Ouzoulias. Currently, he added that no such wording exists in French law, and he is advocating for such an inclusion in the bill. Both Ouzoulias’ grandparents were in the French Resistance. 

“Without Germany asking them to do so, the Vichy government voted very early for laws which stripped Jews of certain rights … including material goods and artworks,” he noted. Though restitutions have been made to Jewish victims by the French state, and former French president Jacques Chirac officially recognized the state’s anti-Semitic laws of the time, Ouzoulias said France’s parliament has not examined the damage Vichy legislation inflicted upon Jews, while  French courts have. “What’s missing is recognizing it in the law,” he said. “We can offer legal measures to repair those damages … and we can start with artwork.”

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French Weekly ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Has Again Angered the Iranian Regime for Publishing Caricatures of Its Supreme Leader

The Iranian regime is fuming over the publication of cartoon drawings mocking its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

On January 4, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the French ambassador, and the next day, announced the closing of the French Institute for Research in Iran “as a first step,” with more retaliations to come if the French government doesn’t sanction those responsible for the illustrations.

“The insulting and indecent act of a French [media] in publishing cartoons against the religious and political authority will not go without an effective and decisive response,” tweeted Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Wednesday. Iranian officials “will not allow the French government to step over the line. They have definitely chosen the wrong path,” added Amir-Abdollahian in Farsi. In a statement on January 5, the Iranian foreign ministry alleged the “offensive” action was also “another sign of Zionism’s attempts at exercising influence on media in order to promote Islamophobia.”

By Thursday night, Charlie Hebdo’s website was also hacked, according to French reports.


Indeed, angering the Iranian dictatorship was a big reason for publishing the cartoons in the first place.

“Make the funniest and meanest caricature of Ali Khamenei,” instructed the notoriously irreverent and controversial Charlie Hebdo in an international call for submissions to a drawing contest, called #MullahsGetOut, in December. The initiative aimed “to support the Iranians who are fighting for their freedom, by ridiculing this religious leader from another age and consigning him to historical oblivion.”

The contest came in response to Iran’s violent crackdown on protests since the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after Iranian morality police took her into custody for allegedly disobeying the nation’s hijab dress code.

Out of hundreds of submissions, 30 were chosen for Charlie Hebdo’s January 7, 2023 special edition, headlined “Mullahs, go back to where you came from!” (Moullahs, retournez d’ou vous venez). The winning entries include a sex and violence-obsessed Khamenei, taunted and humiliated by women. Long hair, headscarves, and high-heeled pumps become symbolic weapons in these drawings, which crush and hang by the neck a desperate Khameni.

The issue was sold out at most print-media kiosks in Paris by Wednesday evening, according to salespeople that Midnight Publishing Group News questioned. It is available online, and its cover illustration features a line of disgruntled, mini mullahs filing into a nude woman’s open cervix, her dark hair flowing as she grins at the viewer.

A person holds a placard reading "Je suis Charlie" during a remembrance rally at Place de la Republique on the one year anniversary of the attacks. Photo: YOAN VALAT/AFP/Getty Images

A person holds a placard reading “Je suis Charlie” during a remembrance rally at Place de la Republique on the one year anniversary of the attacks.
Photo: YOAN VALAT/AFP/Getty Images

The issue further marked the anniversary of the 2015 terror attack that killed 12 people in and outside the publication’s Paris headquarters. Its director and illustrator known as Charb, plus other iconic cartoonists Cabu, Wolinksi, and Honoré, were among those murdered in the coordinated operation that also killed four at a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris. The attackers said they were taking revenge on behalf of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, whose depiction, along with other religious and political leaders, had graced the pages of Charlie Hebdo as sexually explicit and vulgar caricatures.

The magazine was also targeted with firebombs and threatened prior to the 2015 attacks for illustrations of Muhammad deemed blasphemous by certain interpretations of Islamic law, and had its own security detail. In 2006, Muslim groups sued the publication for attacking the religion, but French judges ruled Charlie Hebdo was not taking aim at a single group, but rather poked fun at individual leaders.

The #MullahsGetOut contest “was also a reminder of why Charlie’s cartoonists and writers were assassinated eight years ago, and how [those reasons] are sadly still topical,” wrote the publication’s director Laurent Sourisseau, known as Riss, in an editorial. The drawings submitted all “say ‘no’ to religious tyrants,” and show “people’s attachment to freedom,” he added.

Speaking on Les Matins LCI, France’s foreign minister Catherine Colonna has clapped back at Iranian demands that the French government sanction Charlie Hebdo. “Freedom of expression exists in France, as opposed to what is happening in Iran, and it is exercised under the control of a judge, and within the framework of an independent justice system—something Iran undoubtedly knows little about,” she said. “Moreover, in French law, the notion of blasphemy does not exist.”

In a Thursday statement, France’s foreign ministry said its Iranian counterparts had not yet officially confirmed the closing of the 1983-founded IFRI cultural institute. Its shuttering “would evidently be regrettable,” said a government spokesperson.

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