In Sierra Hall on a Tuesday evening, more than 100 people, including students, faculty and members of the community, filled the room. The balcony doors were opened to accommodate more people. The diverse audience sat on benches, chairs and even stood to have the opportunity to listen to Kenneth Morgan.
Morgan, an internationally known British historian, was the first speaker to take part in Cal State Northridge’s Robert M. Duncan speaker series on Oct. 10 with a lecture on the British transatlantic slave trade.
The series’ goal is to provide the CSUN community with an opportunity to have access to historians and scholars who specialize in various aspects of economic history. The program was established to broaden knowledge and understanding of a history-economy connection.
“I was told that they set up a program in the Economic History of the Atlantic World,” Morgan said. “So what I wanted to talk about was an aspect of my research that fit in with the program that they are running.”
His presentation, “The British Transatlantic Slave Trade: Volume and Distribution, 1698-1807,” took place in Sierra Hall’s Whitsett Room at 7 p.m. A short question and answer period took place after the presentation, during which the audience gave feedback to Morgan and clarified any confusion they had by directing questions to him.
Robert M. Duncan, the benefactor of the speaker series program, introduced Christopher Magra, who is an assistant professor of American economic history at CSUN and was in charge of introducing Morgan.
His exhibition provided detailed information that included maps and statistics to provide visuals to the audience, which gave them better understanding of his presentation. Statistics included a slide titled “Venue of Slave Departures in the British Transatlantic Slave Trade by Region,” which showed a regional breakdown of British slave trading along the coasts and among the lands of Africa.
“I wanted to show them that the British involvement in slave trading was complex,” Morgan said. “It changed considerably over time.”
The speaker series is so far well-received by the public. Magra, who is also a member of the speaker series committee, was pleased with the turnout and the event.
“I thought it went very well and was very informative,” Magra said. “We had a bigger turnout than we expected. We expected 75-90 people and over 120 people showed up.”
The audience listened attentively as Morgan spoke of the British slave trading system and events that occurred in Africa as a result. Some audience members were pleased and happy with the presentation.
“I thought that there is a wealth of information that has been revealed to me, and it has just been revealed to me and metaphorically speaking the doors of knowledge have been (opened) to a much larger world and I feel more ignorant than ever,” said Julian McCoy, senior music major. “I think a great man has traveled far to share the fruits of his labor.”
Another student didn’t share in the admiration for Morgan’s presentation.
“What he presented was things that I already knew and I didn’t feel as if I learned anything new and I felt extremely disconnected about what he was talking about,” said Tiffany Lucero, junior sociology and Pan-African Studies double major.
Morgan is a history professor at the Brunel Business School in London. He has attained degrees from the Universities of Leicester and Oxford. He specializes in slavery and the slave trade, and has written six books. His next book, “Slavery and the British Empire,” is scheduled to be released next year.