Details concerning the registration of the Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998 - CM98 can be found in the Journal Officiel. It changed its title from Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998 to Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998 - CM98 on 8 March 2007. It also added several new objectives to its original remit on 8 March 2007 and 22 January 2009.
Comité Marche du 23 mai 1998 - CM98 is an association that emerged within the context of the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. In the build-up to this landmark anniversary, over one hundred different associations and individuals responded to a call to organize an event to honour their slave ancestors and formally mark this historic occasion. They formed the 'Committee to Create a Combined Commemoration for the 150th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Enslavement of Negroes in the French Colonies' ('Comité pour une Commémoration Unitaire du Cent cinquantenaire de l’Abolition de l’Esclavage des Nègres dans les Colonies Françaises', or CCUCAENCF), under the presidency of Serge Romana (the current President of the association Comité Marche du 23 mai - CM98). The Committee decided that they would hold a silent march across Paris (from République to Nation) in which some 40,000 people (mostly originating from France's overseas departments) participated. During the event, around 10,000 signatures were collected to petition the French government to recognize slavery and the slave trade as crimes against humanity. This march formed the cornerstone of the Comité Marche du 23 mai - CM98, which registered as an association a year later in 1999 and set itself the task of defending the memory of slave ancestors.
The original objective of CM98 was:
- To mobilise efforts around the duty to remember among Guadeloupean, Martiniquan, Guyanese and Réunionnais communities.
As from 2007, CM98 included in its objectives:
- To defend the memory of the victims of colonial slavery, particularly in the Hexagon (France)
- To uphold 23 May as a national day for remembering the victims of colonial slavery
- To work towards repairing the stigmas attached to slavery among its descendants.
In 2009, it made further additions to its objectives:
- To take responsibility for the inherent difficulties faced by those originating from France's overseas departments where their identity as slave descendants is concerned, including the dysfunction of matrifocal families, identity confusion and citizenship issues
- To work towards improving the integration of those originating from France's overseas departments within the French Republic by promoting their identity as slave descendants, by defending the memory of their ancestors who were victims of colonial slavery, and by calling upon the Republic to incorporate and protect this identity and memory
- To fight against racial discrimination, anti-Semitism and modern-day slavery.
It aims to achieve this by helping those originating from France's overseas departments to identify the genealogical origins of their family names (which are linked to the abolition of slavery in 1848), by organizing a yearly national event on 23 May to honour the victims of colonial slavery in partnership with other Antillean, Guyanese and Réunionnais associations, by encouraging those from France's overseas departments to play an active role in the Republic, and finally by participating in any addition events or actions relating to the condemnation of racial discrimination.