Haiti Was The First Nation To Permanently Ban Slavery
By Julia Gaffield
Global protests in support of Black Lives Matter have systematically exposed the legacies of slavery and colonialism today.
This has put many on the defensive. White people are quick to tout stories of abolition, emphasizing the path bravely forged by imperial powers like Great Britain and France. They diminish the realities and consequences of slavery and colonialism by demanding gratitude for ending the same violent systems they’d previously implemented.
And, these narratives are historically inaccurate. Neither the French nor the British were the first to abolish slavery. That honor instead goes to Haiti, the first nation to permanently ban slavery and the slave trade from the first day of its existence. The bold acts of Haitians to overthrow slavery and colonialism reverberated around the world, forcing slaveholding nations like Great Britain and France to come face to face with the contradictions of their own “enlightenment.” Many would now like to forget this reckoning.
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