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Paris just commemorated Solitude, a 'strong' enslaved rebellion figure

Solitude was part of the 1802 uprising against slavery on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. This is the second statue in her honor.

Paris just commemorated Solitude, a 'strong' enslaved rebellion figure
Image Source: EAnionwu / Twitter

Trigger Warning: Racial Violence, Slavery

The city of Paris in France has plans to put up a statue of Solitude, an enslaved figure of the rebellion, at a public garden opened in her honor. The Black woman was involved in the 1802 uprising against slavery on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. She was captured by colonizers and then most likely executed for the role she played in the rebellion. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, cutting the ribbon to the park, called Solitude a "strong symbol" as well as a "heroine." The decision to honor the enslaved icon comes at a time when France's history of slavery is under immense scrutiny, BBC News reports.



Solitude and her legacy are little known but had an incredible effect on the course of history. Though she has received only one brief written mention in a 19th-Century history of Guadeloupe, her story is of monumental significance; She was one of the individuals arrested among "a band of insurgents" during an uprising against slavery. At the time, she was pregnant, and though slavery had been previously abolished during the French Revolution, it was reinstated by Napoleon. The trailblazer, who was of mixed-race descent, was tortured mercilessly after being "allowed" to give birth. Then, she was condemned to death, which could have potentially been the result of extreme flogging.



While Solitude has mostly been forgotten, she was portrayed by French writer André Schwarz-Bart in a 1972 work of fiction. In addition to this, a statue of her already exists in Les Abymes, Guadeloupe. The new statue to be erected at the public garden, honorarily named "The Solitude Garden," will be the second statue in her remembrance. The Solitude Garden is located on Place du Général Catroux in north-western Paris. Solitude is now one of two Black women to be celebrated so publicly. United States entertainer and French Resistance agent Josephine Baker has also been recognized in the European country by both a square as well as a monument.



The Black Lives Matter movement, now gone global, has placed pressure on governments across the world to take a more critical look at their colonial pasts. In light of this, many nations have chosen to specifically honor the Black individuals who freed the enslaved from colonial rule. There has also been a renewed sense of criticism regarding the commemoration of colonial icons such as, for instance, the 17th-Century statesman Jean-Baptiste Colbert. He was one of the leaders to codify slavery overseas. A statue of him currently stands outside the national parliament in Paris. While French President Emmanuel Macron has argued against removing statues or names of controversial figures, he has still suggested that the French take a "clear-headed look" at their history and collective memory.



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