Journey to Justice at The New Room

Journey to Justice at The New Room

Journey to Justice is an international campaign being marked in Bristol by a month-long series of events. One of these is a talk entitled Wesley and the Anti-Slavery Movement that will be presented by Gary Best at The New Room in Broadmead on Monday 16 October.

Journey to Justice

The Journey to Justice campaign was founded in 2013 with the ultimate aim of ‘forming networks of people engaged in working for a more equal and just world where human rights are cherished.’

As part of the month-long series of events being held across Bristol throughout October, visitors to the New Room in Broadmead will be challenged to think about how society might fight the causes of injustice in the modern world.

The campaign aims to inspire people and help them learn from human rights movements past and present so Gary Best, historian and warden of the New Room, will be speaking on the lasting influence of John Wesley, a leading figure of the evangelical 18th Century revival and a leading pioneer for the abolition of slavery in Britain.

Wesley and the Anti-Slavery Movement

John and his brother Charles Wesley sustained a 50-year campaign against slavery, largely inspired by their personal experience of working in America and Bristol, which was a key centre for the slave trade. 

Gary Best’s presentation, Wesley and the Anti-Slavery Movement, takes place on Monday 16 October from 6.15-7.30pm. Tickets, £3, are available on the door.

Gary Best says: “John Wesley spoke movingly – from the very pulpit which still stands in the New Room today – on the equality of all races in the eyes of God, emphasising that nobody has the right to remove another person’s freedom.

“He was a man ahead of his time. He challenged those who engaged in the slave trade: ‘Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature…. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion!…. Do with everyone else as you would he should do to you’.”

The New Room

Slavery is one of the subjects featured in the state-of-the-art museum at the New Room, part of the Heritage Lottery-funded visitor centre that opened in July this year. The display includes a statue of a child made out of chains which, according to Mr Best, is particularly capturing the imagination of visitors.

Journey to Justice at The New Room - Child in Chains

“Sadly there are even more slaves in the world now than there were in Wesley’s day so we feel that slavery deserves a higher public profile than it currently has,” says Gary Best.

“The Journey to Justice campaign does a great job in promoting a wider understanding of the hard work and sacrifice behind the legacy we’ve inherited in the UK, and helps the next generation understand and respect the history of this struggle and – very importantly – their own potential in the continuing quest for social justice in terms of wealth, education, employment opportunities, and security in their lives.”

“In the UK we actually have a proud but largely unknown history as a place of refuge for people of many cultures, who have used the UK as a secure and sympathetic base where they could publicise causes they dared not champion in their home countries.

“Because this part of our heritage is not well known, Journey for Justice aims to raise awareness of it, and tells the story of civil rights movements through an evolving and captivating variety of exhibitions and events.”

Wesley’s opposition to slavery became a dominant aspect of his work from the late 1760s, partly in response to the hypocrisy of the American colonists’ demands for ‘human rights’ and liberty while continuing to enslave people.

Further information

Bristol’s Journey to Justice Month is organised in liaison with Bristol Cathedral, Bristol Radical History Group, City of Bristol College, Remember the Real WW1 and UWE.

If you’d like further information on the New Room visit and to learn more about the background to Journey to Justice go to