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MARCH OF THE ABOLITIONISTS

 16-06-2007

Marchers celebrating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery will be walking though Birmingham this weekend, and on Tuesday, you can join them in a rendition of "Amazing Grace". In the meantime Audrey Miller has got some campaigning to do.

I am an abolitionist calling for poor countries to be freed from debt repayments to the rich. If I had been around two hundred years ago no doubt I would have been calling for the abolition of slavery. There are lots of similarities in the two campaigns.

Not surprising then that when asked to help with the March of the Abolitionist stop over in Birmingham I said "yes" but now I am in flat panic.

With just a days to go before they arrive on Sunday 17th June my head is full of single beds versus doubles, veggie versus no red meat and lots of other needs as I try to fit the marchers to my very small list of host families in Birmingham - people who will be showing their commitment to the campaigners in a very practical way by giving bed and board to the marchers who are making their way to Liverpool.

When the phone stops ringing and I take a deep breath I will be planning to join the march at Lifford and then stroll along the canal, following the African /English key walkers in their Yokes and Chains with the Bishop of Birmingham.

Maybe I might be better joining them at Gas St basin and then walking to the Cathedral in Colmore Row. It is exhausting just thinking about a walk across our city so I admire enormously the team who have already been on the road since June 4th when they left London.

They will no doubt welcome the rest at the Cathedral and meeting with faith leaders of the city between 5.30 - 6.30 pm. Feel free to join them.

Monday is rest day for the team when they catch up on the laundry and phone home etc. Don't know what the day might bring for me... but I must not panic I keep telling myself.

Tuesday is an inspiring opportunity for a specially selected school to meet the team and see the links to present day slavery by talking to Moazzam Begg and hear of his experience in Guantanamo Bay.

These special workshops will end at 11.30 am and then there another opportunity for the public to get involved outside the Central Library in Chamberlain Sq.

Can you sing Amazing Grace? Can you follow a Scottish piper through the city centre along - New St and Corporation St?

If so, why not show your solidarity and join us outside the Central Library at 11.30 am on Tuesday 19th June?

By 12.30 pm, they will be on their way to Stafford and maybe I can reflect on being an abolitionist then and now - and the panic will be over.

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