Multimedia: slavery remembrance

‘Haiti may lead the way’

When Professor Anthony Bogues spoke to the UN General Assembly in late March, he emphasized the continuing relevance of Haiti’s slave-led revolution and its 1805 constitution.

By TAB staff  |  April 8, 2010  |  Email to a friend

On March 25, the United Nations observed its International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade with an exhibit, video screenings, and remarks by diplomats and scholars. Among the latter was Brown’s Anthony Bogues, Harmon Family Professor of Africana Studies and an expert in Caribbean and African politics and culture.

While the UN’s 1960 Universal Declaration of Human Rights established a self-governance plan for colonial countries and peoples, Bogues told the UN General Assembly it is important to remember that 156 years earlier, Haitians declared political independence from France and, in the resulting constitution, abolished slavery in Haiti forever.

The international community should reframe its conception of Haiti as an “outcast nation of the West,” Bogues said. Rather, “we should embrace its historical contribution to human freedom as one central element in the making of the modern world.” With that new framework, how Haiti is rebuilt after its devastating earthquake of 2010 is “a critical question,” said Bogues.