In all of my years of schooling, I have taken many classes on World history; learning about Greece, England, France, and other European countries. However, it wasn’t until the lecture with Jeremy Popkin from the University of Kentucky, that I learned of the Haitian Revolution. After thinking back a bit more, this lecture was one of the first times in my life that I have learned, in a school setting, about a non-European revolution that was galvanized by majority non-Whites. I asked myself, why? There seems to be a pattern, in history, of the achievements of people of color being minimized and even erased altogether. In this post, I will explore the ways in which the people of color have been suppressed and oppressed by these happenings.
Two of the most talked about revolutions of the late 18th to 19th century are the French and the American Revolution. While they may have taken place in different parts of the world, both of these revolutions opposed rights and freedom of non-rights; they were essentially all about suppressing the rights of blacks while gaining the right to establish government. In contrast, the Haitian revolution was all about fighting for the freedoms and rights of African slaves and other marginalized groups. The fact that the Haitian Revolution has been so silenced by historians, goes to show that the revolution is thought of as less complex, less noteworthy, and less significant, when in fact it was a major historical event, as the largest successful slave uprising in history.
I believe that it’s important to list some of the defining characteristics of The Haitian Revolution, as it has been largely ignored, up until a few decades ago. As noted in the last paragraph, the Haitian Revolution was the largest successful slave uprising in the world. The revolution was a 12 year battle against slavery and colonialism that resulted in acts of extreme violence by both sides of the conflict. Haiti finally got ints independence from France in 1804. This victory led to many progressive movements, such as the addition of Jean Baptiste Relley, a Black man, to the French Parliament.
Despite the obvious importance of the revolution, which has been laid out in this post, the Haitian Revolution is still only known about by a small group of people, who are mostly African-American. This is the result of the erasure of the revolution. We cannot allow this to keep happening to the significant historical achievements of people of color. While it may seem that this happened hundreds of year ago, it is also happening on this very day. As of last year, legislators is Texas and other states were trying to write slavery out of public school textbooks. These books referred to African slaves as “migrant workers” who came to the New World freely, and depicted European indentured servants as those who truly suffered during this time. The falsity of this statement is huge and obvious to anyone who knows any American history, but if we don’t address these dangers acts, this could be the information that children one day learn in school.