History comes alive: Slavery across the pond

By Alexus Bomar

“History helps to make the world better and it’s something you’ll have for life.” – Professor Sean Farrell Moran

In its 11th year, the “History Comes Alive” series is slowly coming to an end.   

Every school year through the months of September to March, excluding the month of December, history professors and lecturers here at Oakland University cover topics based on subjects they teach and research their conduct.

“History Comes Alive” is a lecture series offered by OU’s department of history. The series highlights a variety of historic experiences, which varies from United States, European and non-western topics.

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, students and community members gathered in Banquet Room A of the Oakland Center to hear an associate professor, Sean Farrell Moran, give a lecture on Britain, race and the war against the slave trade.  

“I’m not an expert on slavery and the slave trade, but I think it’s an important aspect of British history,” Moran said.  “Also, it is African American month after all, so I think this was the perfect time to talk about it.”   

Moran covered a variety of topics in his lecture.  He talked about the various empires in Britain, the slave trade and how it changed over the years as well as Charles Darwin and evolution.

His main purpose of this lecture was to explain the movement of the people of Great Britain from a national campaign against the slave trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

He began his lecture by saying that there were two different empires with different views. 

The first empire was established in the late 18th to early 19th century.

“Driving sensibility of the British people was driven by the idea that slavery was evil,” Moran said. “There was a fundamental violation in human dignity and liberty.”

A growing European and British sentiment came to be developed in an era called “Enlightenment”, that slavery was wrong, and a movement against slavery began.  

The second empire largely accelerated after 1865 through the end of the century. 

According to Moran, “When national identity and security came to be large issues for the British, the driving force behind that and the moral values were increasing racialist assumptions of the British race being superior to the people on the ground.”

Moran spoke about how different parts of the world responded to slavery and the slave trade.

“I’ve been studying history for 40 years, and also, I have been reading thousands of books, so it helped to prepare me for this lecture, “ Moran said.

Before the Q&A session, Moran briefly covered Charles Darwin and the topic of evolution.

“Since the beginning of time, people have been wondering why are we all different,” he said. “There was a widespread enthusiasm for the connection between the human and the monkey.”

“I really enjoyed this lecture,” said first-year history student Anthony Clark. “I got a different perspective about slavery.”

This lecture series is made possible by contributions from the Knudsen Family Foundation, the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost, with a special thanks to the founding sponsors, John and Annette Carter.

All “History Comes Alive” lectures are held at 7 p.m. in the Oakland Center on the campus of Oakland University.  

The final lecture of this year is Tuesday, Mar. 10 in Gold Rooms B and C.