At last! A proper plaque, courtesy of Bristol Radical History Group, to commemorate anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson, the mystery landlord “Thompson” and many ordinary Bristolian sailors – prepared to lift the lid on Merchant Venturer slaving scum – was unveiled outside the legendary Seven Stars pub today.
With the punks to one side of the plaque and suits on the other, an early lunchtime start ensured order was maintained and Deputy Mayor Royston Griffey was unfortunately able to get safely away minus tar, feathers and a thoroughly deserved dip in the docks. Maybe another time?
But why “Cry Freedom, Cry Seven Stars”?
The seven stars are a reference to the seven brightest stars of the constellation Ursa Major or the Great Bear, the Plough or the Big Dipper as it’s variously known.
It’s the best known of all constellations – we can pretty much all identify it – and it points to probably the best known of the stars in the Northern hemisphere – Polaris, or the North Star.
Now, the North Star had a very particular significance and use for the slaves of the southern states of the US. Why? Because it was the star that could help an escaped slave with no map to guide them. It led them north. To freedom.
You see comrades, when you have no map, the Seven Stars point the way to freedom …