The Haitian Revolution was the only successful slave insurrection in history. Its leaders grasped the full meaning of French revolutionary ideas and used them to create the world’s first black republic. The event elevated a black general, François-Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743 - 1803), to such international fame that admirers ranked him on par with George Washington. The movement has been called the birth moment of universal human rights.
Sadly, the epochal expansion of equality neither propelled Louverture, nor the country he founded, into a secure and prosperous future. Within eight years, Napoleon Bonaparte sought to turn back the clock with a new invasion, and Louverture ended his life in a French prison. Other black revolutionaries — most notably Jean-Jacques Dessalines — ultimately expelled French armies and established the Haitian Republic once and for all. The victory was monumental, but the cost was crippling — not just in white, black and brown lives, but in the devastated economy and scarred sense of nationhood that emerged from the embers. It’s a legacy that dogs Haiti to this day
Vaguely remembered today, the Haitian Revolution was a hurricane at the turn of the 19th century, traumatizing Southern planters and inspiring U.S. slaves. Narrated by the award-winning Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, Égalité For All : Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haitian Revolution explores this history through music, voodoo ritual, powerful re-creations and the comments of insightful Haitian and American writers, historians and cultural figures. It excerpts letters, diaries and public pronouncements from the period and visualizes them with photographed period re-enactments. Hopefully this and other quality documents will help to bring a greater understanding of a unique and resilient people and their history.
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