The Louisiana Weekly
By: Edmund W. Lewis, Editor
Monday, January 10, 2011
A number of groups began commemorating the 200th anniversary of the 1811 slave revolt last week with programs designed to honor the estimated 500 enslaved Africans and free people of color who took a stand against oppression by forming a small military unit and attempting to convert New Orleans into a free republic for Black people.
Led by Charles Deslondes, a free man of color who was born in Haiti and knew well the story of the Haitian revolution, and men like Kook and Quamana, these revolutionaries put on military uniforms and rode horses as they picked up additional rebels and weapons as they headed east to New Orleans.
Ultimately, the revolt was turned back by a coalition of federal troops and a local militia that possessed superior weaponry and happened to stumble upon the rebels at an inopportune moment during their march to New Orleans. Had the revolutionary Africans reached New Orleans and had a chance to gather additional firepower and soldiers, historians might be telling an entirely different story about this uprising.
Many of the rebel slaves were tried by a panel of the very slaveholders they sought to overthrow and their bodies were mutilated and strewn throughout the River Parishes and Jackson Square in New Orleans along with their severed heads, which were placed on poles as warnings to other enslaved Africans about the cost of rebelling against slavery.
As it stands, those who are familiar with the story know that Charles Deslondes and the others who planned and carried out this revolt were every bit as brave and heroic as Toussaint L’Ouverture, Cinque, Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner. Continue reading