Portrait of Resilience
Prominent British actor David Harewood passionately calls for a formal British government apology regarding slavery injustice. His plea stems from personal ties to enslaved ancestors on Barbadian sugar plantations.
David Harewood joins forces with Earl David Lascelles, a descendant of his ancestors' slave owners, shedding light on how his own surname carries the weight of that brutal era when slaves were named after their oppressors.
Harewood's ancestors endured enslavement at the hands of the Lascelles family, who held the title of Earls of Harewood. Earl David Lascelles, a cousin to the King, joins David Harewood in passionately urging the government to take responsibility and issue a formal apology for this dark chapter in history.
To acknowledge this shared history, a poignant portrait of David Harewood will find a home in the Cinnamon Drawing Room of Harewood House, situated near Leeds. This historic estate was constructed with funds earned through the slave trade, making it a poignant symbol of the enduring legacy of slavery.
David Harewood recalls his initial visit to the house in his thirties, when he believed the shared surname was merely a coincidence. However, it was during a documentary meeting with Earl David in 2021 that the true connection became clear, prompting a renewed call for justice.
Speaking to the BBC about the portrait, David Harewood sees it as a testament to "the resilience of my people." He envisions it as a catalyst for visitors to question why his portrait graces the walls and, in doing so, to understand the monumental sacrifices and suffering that contributed to the construction of Harewood House.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's reluctance to issue an apology is mentioned, with David Harewood asserting that the government's failure to acknowledge this dark history is detrimental to the descendants of slaves living in the country.
Earl David Lascelles, however, calls for honesty about the past as a necessary step to address the prejudices of the present. While he remains ambiguous about a personal apology for deeds he didn't commit, he expresses his willingness to consider it if David Harewood were to request it directly.
In 2021, David Harewood visited Harewood House for Channel 5's "1000 Years A Slave," discussing slavery's enduring impact with David Lascelles.