The history of the New World since Columbus re-discovered it is one of conquest, pillage, exploitation and forced migration of a people. For more than three centuries millions of people were forcibly transported from their homes in Africa, across the perilous Atlantic Ocean to the New World, where they were forced to labour on sugar plantations for the rest of their lives. This enslavement of a people continued until events in Europe changed the fortunes of the West Indian and North American colonies. Humanitarians started questioning the validity of slavery, there was competition from beet sugar producers in Europe, and the advent of the Industrial Revolution spawned the rise of a new group of influential men in the British Parliament who believed that slavery was no longer economically viable.
In 1833 Thomas Buxton presented The Emancipation Bill in Parliament. The Act was passed and came into effect on 1 August 1834. On that day, thousands of slaves in the British West Indies became free men and women.
One hundred and fifty one years later, on 1 August 1985 the government of Trinidad and Tobago declared Emancipation Day a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.