The Haitian Revolution: One of the Littest Moments in Black History

"St. Domingue: Prise De La Ravine Aux Couleuvres." (Saint Domingue: Capture of Ravine-à-Couleuvres) Depiction of the Battle o
"St. Domingue: Prise De La Ravine Aux Couleuvres." (Saint Domingue: Capture of Ravine-à-Couleuvres) Depiction of the Battle of Ravine-à-Couleuvres (23 February 1802), during the Haitian Revolution.

Welcome to Black History Month, a 28-day celebration that actually lasts for fourteen days. Let’s be honest, most people outside of the black community aren’t even aware of what’s happening until after Valentine's Day. And when they do start to pay attention, they are given a highlight reel of the usual suspects; because of course, these are the “only hero’s” of black folk. The tributes are generally the same. The “heavy hitters” are highlighted in a photomontage that centers on Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and a couple of modern white friendly negro heroes. Barrack Obama has now been added to that centerpiece. However, other than that the usual cast remains. They are the only ones we discuss, the Rosa Parks, Booker T Washington, and Oprah's of the game. Their contributions are great, but black history is more than just 4 people on a poster.

In a perfect world we would celebrate the rich history of African Americans, our struggles and victories, unfortunately, this world is far from that. Alas, I am here to give you the inside story on one of the littest moments in the history of all black people. It's a revolution, one in which thousands of trifling white people caught fades and it started in little old Haiti.

The Haitian Revolution was an African slave rebellion that took place in the French colony Saint-Domonigue. Its place in history is often glossed over but it was the most successful slave rebellion of its time and culminated in the creation of the Republic of Haiti. Its impact was felt worldwide striking fear into the hearts of southern slave owners while giving hope to those who were still in bondage. Starting in 1791 the slaves fought for their freedom, these battles lasted for over ten years until getting their final victory in the 1803 Battle of Vertières.

This battle occurred less than two months before Dessalines’ proclamation of the independent Republic of Haiti on 1 January 1804 and delivered the final blow to the French attempt to stop the Haitian Revolution and re-institute slavery, as had been the case in its other Caribbean possessions. The Battle of Vertières marked the first time in the history of mankind that a slave army led a successful revolution for their freedom. November 18 has been widely celebrated since then as a Day of Army and Victory in Haiti.

The Republic of Haiti had a bright future ahead of it, as the only successful slave-led rebellion it was poised to be the blueprint for others. Unfortunately, it was set up for failure by the United States who refusal to engage in trade because of their own addiction to slavery, this decision significantly hurt the Haitian economy.

Haiti was forced to borrow money from banks in France and the US to pay reparations to France. A major loan from the US to pay off the French was finally paid off in 1947. The current value of the money Haiti was forced to pay to French and US banks? Over $20 Billion – with a big B.

It was a nation led by black men and women, so the status quo refused to acknowledge them. In order to understand the circumstances that plague this country today, we must know that even after winning their freedom, there were forces of opposition that refused to let a nation led by black people succeed.

Isolated from the world and missing all of the conventional amenities of a “Modern Society” they fought for their freedom, maintained it and then helped to secure the independence of other enslaved countries. They did all of this without education; the same weapons capabilities, or resources for mass communication. They did it in a country extremely polarized and divided by class and racial status. Before the world knew of twitter, Facebook, snap chat, Instagram, text messaging, or trending topics, their battle for freedom was renowned. What happened in Saint-Domingue is another chapter in the long and proud book of our black history. And today we should celebrate it as one of our greatest victories.

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