Resistance & Rebellion
This exhibition begins with examples of enslaved people’s resistance and rebellion. Their actions-- running away, fighting back on slave ships and in the Atlantic World, establishing maroon communities-- most shocked and alerted the world to the injustices and inhumanity of the slavetrade and slavery as it existed across the Atlantic World.
It should be noted that abolitionists argued mightily over the use of violence and force. Some felt that fighting back and being otherwise belligerent in everyday interactions would only support enslavers and other pro-slavery individuals’ arguments that slavery was beneficial because it tamed and educated so-called “primitive” people of African descent.
Smaller forms of resistance, too, were important as they kept enslavers on their toes and gave enslaved people some sense of power and control over their lives.
Osman the Maroon in the Swamp
Photographs and Prints Division. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation