Liverpool’s most radical son
I was commissioned by National Museums Liverpool to help them visually and aurally tell the story of Edward Rushton, a man criminally unsung for his radical thinking and actions. It’s been a pleasure helping to raise the profile of this activist and pioneer for equality. As part of DadaFest, a series of events are happening that shine a light on Rushton who spoke out against slavery in Liverpool – the European capital of the slave trade. His letter to George Washington exposed his hypocrisy as an owner of slaves and the leader of a country which proclaimed liberty for all but the enslaved. It became a landmark in antislavery campaigning on both sides of the Atlantic.
The displays I’ve created using historical artefacts from Rushton’s life along with graphics, sound and imagery at Museum of Liverpool and The International Slavery Museum highlight Rushton’s key achievements as a campaigner for human rights and his work setting up the first blind school in Britain which still exists today.
As an ex-sailor Rushton knew well the rigours of a life at sea and called the press gang a ‘National Stain’. This stand cost him dear. Rushton lost his job as a result but he would not be silent. Rushton’s bookshop in Paradise Street became a centre for Liverpool’s “Friends of Freedom” and national agitation for social justice, fighting government oppression. In his poetry, some of which is included in the displays, Rushton consistently gave voice to the oppressed, whether enslaved people on plantations, sailors kidnapped by the press gang or Irish rebels.
The events are all free, so use the links above to find out more, take a visit and find out more about this unsung radical of the city.
Here’s the Wikipedia link for more information on the man.