seeks to restore Wilberforce's name
By Jennifer Riley
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Mar. 19 2008 06:05 PM ET
An award-winning documentary on the life
of the Christian British lawmaker famous
for his role in helping end the British
Empire's slave trade is currently airing
on public television across the US.
"The Better Hour: The Legacy of William
Wilberforce" is a one-hour documentary
produced to commemorate the 200th
anniversary of the 1807-1808 abolition
of the British and American slave trade.
"Every school boy knows the name of
William Wilberforce," former president
Abraham Lincoln had said a
quarter-century after Wilberforce's
But today "few Americans understand why,
or even know Wilberforce's name", noted
Cullen Schippe, executive producer of
"The Better Hour", in a statement.
"The Better Hour" seeks to reestablish
Wilberforce in American history and put
him alongside American abolitionists
such as Frederick Douglass, who once
said, "Let no man forget the name of
"We would like to restore William
Wilberforce to his rightful place in
history," Sheila Weber, vice president
of communications at "The Better Hour",
told Focus on the Family's CitizenLink.
"It has been a largely lost story. This
documentary is going to be available for
use in social studies and history
Wilberforce was a British
parliamentarian who led the fight for
the abolition of the slave trade, which
legally ended in 1807 in England and
1808 in the United States. 2007 marked
the 200th anniversary of the end of the
trans-Atlantic slave trade.
"The Better Hour" highlights
Wilberforce's determination and love for
humanity and shows how he and his
colleagues worked tirelessly to end the
slave trade, even though it assumed a
large portion of the British economy.
"We want to inspire and mobilise people,
today, to follow in his footsteps
because it's a remarkable story of
faith," Weber commented. "Wilberforce
had a dramatic conversion. It was
because he was compelled by his newfound
Christian faith that he undertook such
an arduous task to end the evil of human
"He spent many hours every morning in
private prayer and Bible reading and
devotions with his family," Weber added.
"This is, in large part, what gave him
the strength to persevere."
Although best known as a Christian
abolitionist, Wilberforce was also a
prolific philanthropist, establishing 69
philanthropies during his lifetime.
He also spearheaded efforts to set up
education for indigent children, child
labour laws, prison reform, the first
society for the prevention of cruelty to
animals, Bible societies, and mandatory
small pox inoculation.
"Our world needs a new generation of
people like Wilberforce," wrote Rick
Warren, best-selling author of The
Purpose Driven Life, in the foreword to
"Creating The Better Hour: Lessons from
William Wilberforce", a related study
guide for small groups.
"I hope Wilberforce's example will
compel people to work together with
others to defeat the evil giants that
loom over the twenty-first century,"
"The Better Hour" builds on the
popularity of last year's movie Amazing
Grace which is also about William
Wilberforce. The film took in nearly £15
"Wilberforce puts a new face on what it
means to be a Christian – that we can be
true to the tenets of the faith and yet
show forth compassion to the world,"
Weber of "The Better Hour" said.