Solitude was part of the 1802 uprising against slavery on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. This is the second statue in her honor.
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.
France racism: Paris to commemorate slave rebellion figure https://t.co/FcXvZrlxFU— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 27, 2020
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.
Her name was 'Solitude'.— Elizabeth Anionwu (@EAnionwu) September 27, 2020
I saw this remarkable statue of Solitude during a visit to her country of birth, Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean.
'France racism: Paris to commemorate slave rebellion figure' https://t.co/Qn86OZmPex
Read more about her here: https://t.co/xAu4WgBic4 pic.twitter.com/z01PBLKq0T
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.
Black Lives Matter protests have spread worldwide, including France, where comedian @FaryLopesB has criticized his country’s blindness on race. Might this moment prompt change in France?— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) July 29, 2020
“I don’t think I will see it,” Fary tells me. “Our child’s child, maybe they will see it.” pic.twitter.com/QpiQUchHUc