Marking the 500th Anniversary of the Americas' First Slave Revolt

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tags: slavery, slave revolts, Caribbean history, Santo Domingo

Five hundred years ago this month, the Americas saw its first revolt of enslaved people, when Black Africans rose up against colonial powers in the Caribbean.

Historians believe the Santo Domingo Slave Revolt took place on Dec. 26, 1521, starting at a sugar plantation owned by Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus. He was governor of La Española, the present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti, according to a monograph on the revolt published by the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (DSI) at the City College of New York.

The enslaved people marched 62 miles from the plantation to a village in an attempt to reach other Black Africans seeking freedom. The uprising was strategically planned during the Christmas season, because the enslaved knew that the white Spaniards would be distracted and deep in prayer, according to the monograph. 

“This was so well planned, which is also very interesting to me as a sociologist, that they came from different places in Africa," said scholar Ramona Hernandez, director of CUNY DSI and a professor of sociology at City College. "So they spoke different languages yet they found ways of putting together an insurrection."

“It reveals this spirit of resistance, and not taking on oppression passively," Hernandez said.

The Spanish soon sent in military reinforcements that effectively halted the revolt. But the legacy of the rebellion, which is considered the first recorded revolt in the Americas, reverberated throughout the region. 

Read entire article at NBC News