The history lessons I never learned in school | Love146
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  • What can history teach us about modern day abolition?

I grew up in a British city surrounded by ancient times: Viking remains, Roman walls, Norman artifacts.

Yet surprisingly I never found myself that interested in the remnants of the past around me or the paragraphs that showed up in my history textbooks. It never appeared relevant to my life, present, or future.

How wrong I was.

Today, as I envision Love146’s future and how we can impact more children, I find myself turning to history’s teachers more often than I ever thought possible.

I search the past for the lessons it holds – lessons just as applicable to the work of abolition as they were centuries ago.

Prior to the start of Love146 in the UK, I delved into the lives of the British abolitionists who passionately brought about the end of the transatlantic slave trade. Once I even flew to London on a pilgrimage to visit Clapham Common, the area where these world-changers lived, and Holy Trinity Clapham, William Wilberforce’s church. I sought to connect with the people and spirit that had so radically changed our society.

WilberforceChurch

Two weeks ago I ventured into the past again, but this time I only had to drive to New York City. I sat in a Broadway theatre and was taken back to 1700s Britain, where for two and a half hours I journeyed alongside John Newton, the English slave trader turned abolitionist, in the newly released musical named after his world-famous hymn, Amazing Grace.

AmazingGrace1 AmazingGrace2

History’s lessons are easily forgotten in our modern-day pace of living, so watching the events unfold on stage served as a much-needed reminder of the sacrifice it takes to have an impact on a world in need. I’ve never been to a show before where the audience felt as much a part of the performance as the actors. Such is the power of history’s greatest tales when shared well—they transport us to another era while impacting us here and now.

As the CEO of Love146, it’s common to spend most of my work time thinking of the present and the future.

After all, the emails dropping in my inbox from our teams in the Philippines, the US, or the UK never let me forget that children have desperate needs that we must meet with creative solutions as soon as possible. Yet stories like Newton’s remind me that inspired action also comes from studying, and learning from, those who have gone before us.

And that’s the part they never taught me in school.

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