Oxford University Hosts International Conference on Sam Sharpe


A major international conference on Jamaica’s National Hero, Sam Sharpe, will be held in April at the prestigious University of Oxford, England.
The conference titled: ‘Sam Sharpe and the Quest for Liberation: Context, Theology and Legacy for Today’ is a collaboration involving the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent’s Park College, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Jamaica Baptist Union, and BMS World Mission.
Director, Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Dr. Nicholas Wood, told JIS News that the conference is a follow up to the apology made by the British Baptist Union for the transatlantic slave trade.
“It is part of the process. The British Baptist Union went to Jamaica to offer an apology for the transatlantic slave trade and during our talks with the Jamaica Baptist Union it was felt that one way to follow up the process was to look at the work of Sam Sharpe,” he said.
The conference aims to explore the Sam Sharpe story to gain new insights in the characters, events and social institutions of the time. Dr. Wood said that it will examine the theological insights that Sharpe and his colleagues were developing about human freedom and liberation, and look at the legacy of Sam Sharpe for today.
The three-day event will feature the launch of a book centred on the national hero called ‘Burning for Freedom: A Theology of the Black Atlantic Struggle for Liberation’ by Delroy A. Reid-Salmon, Research Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture.
General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, Rev. Dr. Neville Callam; Vice President of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Dr. Cawley Bolt; Professor of Social History at the University of the West Indies, Verene Shepherd; and Pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Kingston, Rev. Dr Burchell Taylor are among the list of respected international theologians and historians, who will make presentations at the event.
The conference document said it takes as its centre-piece, the story of Sam Sharpe, the Baptist deacon and enslaved person, who played an important role in the ‘Great Jamaican Slave Revolt’ of 1831. One of the leaders of a group of enslaved persons, who took part in a sit-down strike against slavery, he was executed together with more than 500 others.
Their revolt is recognised by historians and theologians as having a powerful influence on the process leading to the abolition of slavery. Sam Sharpe was proclaimed a Jamaican National Hero in 1975.
Dr. Wood said that he expects that the deliberations from the conference will be published while some sessions will be recorded and available as a podcast on its website.

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