Few people know the truth behind the Golden Coach panel
For three centuries, Amsterdam was closely involved in the slave trade and slavery in colonies in Asia and the Atlantic. How do you see this slavery past reflected in our city? And how large was Amsterdam’s share in the international slave trade? In the run-up to Keti Koti, the annual celebration of the abolition of slavery on July 1, Amsterdam high school students take on the role of journalists for AT5 to find the answers to these questions. In the third episode, students of the Bijlmer Open School Community investigate the Golden Coach.
The Gouden Koets is mainly known as the carriage of the royal family on Prinsjesdag. But there’s a lot more history behind this shiny vehicle. The controversial panel ‘Tribute of the Colonies’ shows how black people were portrayed in the past.
The Amsterdam Museum has the Golden Coach on loan for a exhibition about the carriage that opens on June 18. Curator of the museum Annemarie de Wildt talks about the carriage and the image on the panels in the City Archives based on the original drawings. They also visit artist Airich, who has made a completely new version of the panel.
Museum piece or vehicle?
The coach is currently being restored and it is questionable whether the coach will ever return on Prinsjesdag. Paul Slettenhaar, alderman of Castricum, is in favor of this. According to him, the Golden Coach should remain in use and the history of the panels should be told. The students and Paul can’t quite get along. Is it too painful, too uncomfortable or do they just not understand each other?
The panels on the Golden Coach are an example of how black people were depicted in the past. Mitchell Esajas of The Black Archives uses paintings, children’s books and images to show that this image has a long history.
Amsterdam’s Slavery Past
In this six-part documentary series, students from various Amsterdam secondary schools investigate how the traces of our slavery past can be found in the city today. In addition to the Bijlmer Open School community, the Metis Montessori Lyceum, Hyperion Lyceum, Hervormd Lyceum West, the Sint Ignatius Gymnasium and the Amsterdam Mavo are also participating.