“William Wilberforce’s life and commitment is an example to all of us of the power of one man to change the course of human history,” said Traditional Values Coalition Chairman, Rev. Louis P. Sheldon. “His life was spent on the noble cause of ending the horrid slave trade in Britain – and his work inspired 19th century Americans to begin fighting against slavery in our own nation. He left a powerful legacy for all of us to emulate.”
On the 200th anniversary of the historic vote to end the slave trade in Great Britain, I saw "Amazing Grace", and learned history in a manner which was never taught in school. The nun who taught us US History in 11th grade told us, "you think of American history of John Wayne on his white horse, I'm going to tell you the REAL American history". She then began a course revealing the selfish motives, and personal flaws of America's leaders, such as the Thomas Jefferson's liaison with his slave, Sally Hemmings. The danger with teaching methods like this, so prevalent in education today, is that the student comes away quite cynical about human motivation, and has no positive role models.
In "Amazing Grace". William Wilberforce, the 18th century Member of the British Parliament, is presented as a war-weary champion of the oppressed, depleted in health and spirit. The film then flashes back to an exuberant 'Wilber', as he's known by his friends, in the springtime of his conversion to Christ. He's fascinated with the wonder of creation, and is carefully considering how to serve God best, when his good friend brings over some unusual dinner guests, who suggest that one can serve God and man by being active in the public square, using his influence in Parliament. They reveal to him in the horrors of the slave trade, and he's thrown into a crisis; he is aware that God is calling him to oppose the 300 member majority who favor, and profit from the selling of human beings. Although his abolitionist friends are faithful, his political friends are more fickle, causing him to lose heart just as the battle is about to turn in his favor. How he regains his sense of mission, and ultimately stops the trafficking in human beings from Africa, makes riveting viewing.
Wilberforce's struggle, a study in heroism, is an outstanding history lesson. Abraham Lincoln stated that every American schoolboy knows the name of William Wilberforce. This would be a healthier society if it were again true.
With the intensity of Ioan Gruffodd, who plays William Wilberforce, and the raw emotion of Albert Finney, who played John Howard the slave trader turned minister who wrote the hymn, "Amazing Grace", the story progressed in a manner that literally had me on the edge of my seat. Gorgeous cinematography, and historical detail added to the authenticity of the film
Take your older children(some frightening scenes of slavery and mild profanity) to see "Amazing Grace" and help them to find their voice for justice. According to the website, the struggle to end human trafficking is far from over; over 27 million men, women and children are still in slavery across the world. An outreach on the movie website will tell you how to get involved.