Beyond Vertières: A Decolonial History of the Haitians
By Dr. Jean Eddy Saint Paul
Contrary to the hegemonic trend of French historiography, the Battle of Vertières was not a myth nor is it fiction. Only two kilometers from Cap Haïtien, on November 18, 1803, the Indigenous Army of Saint Domingue (Haiti) led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, confronted and defeated the French Expeditionary Army of Napoléon Bonaparte. Bonaparte was the reigning master and lord of Europe, and this defining moment in Saint Domingue’s revolution proved his army unable to withstand the efforts of a people determined to seize their freedom.
This victory was possible because our ancestors — both men and women– were unflinching, undaunted, and united to abolish slavery and challenge white supremacy. Vertières, is above all, the result of tenacity, esprit du corps, and self-sacrifice. For the black race, and specifically, for Haitian people, Vertières symbolizes freedom, respect for human dignity, and the fight for a decolonial racial justice.
But, why, even today, after 215 years, are Haitian citizens unable to access a dignified life? What are we to do beyond Vertières? Tomorrow’s exhibit “Beyond Vertières,” hosted by the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College, invites us to re-appropriate and embrace the core values of freedom, justice, and equality that made Vertières possible in order to rethink a new system compatible to an emancipated citizenship.
For more information on the exhibit, click here.
Welcome, and enjoy the exhibit!
Dr. Jean Eddy Saint Paul is the founding director of the CUNY-wide Haitian Studies Institute and Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York [email protected]