“All slaves want to be free—to be free is very sweet. I will say the truth to the English people who may read this history that my good friend Miss S—, is now writing down for me. I have been a slave myself—I know what slaves feel—I can tell by myself what other slaves feel, and by what they have told me. The man that says slaves be quite happy in slavery—that they don’t want to be free—that man is either ignorant or a lying person. I never heard a slave say so.”
—Mary Prince, 23
The Ethical Dimension
Why did Bermuda’s Government make Mary Prince a National Hero of Bermuda in 2012?
A duty of memory is an obligation for remembrance. How does Bermuda’s commemoration of Mary Prince fulfill a duty of memory? In other words, why has Bermuda made Mary Prince a National Hero? Does her memory affect how we live our lives in the present? Does her memory affect our vision of the future?
Are there other ways a duty of memory may be fulfilled? For example, Sally Bassett, an enslaved woman who was burned at the stake in Bermuda, in 1730, was honoured with a statue in her memory. It was erected on Bermuda's Cabinet Office grounds, in 2008.
To find out more about Sally Bassett, read the piece titled "Remembrance" under the Learn tab of this website, go to The Sally Bassett Statue: The Controversial Legacy Continues, or google Sally Bassett's name.
Another project that fulfills a duty of memory is Louisana's Whitney Plantation. A plantation museum with a focus on enslavement, its website is www.whitneyplantation.com.
The commemoration medallion that honours Mary Prince is kept in the Government of Bermuda Archives. These photographs of the front and back of the medallion were taken by Margot Maddison-MacFadyen in November, 2013, and are used with permission of the Government of Bermuda Archives.