Dutty Boukman ( ??? – November 7, 1791)
- Dutty Boukman was born in Jamaica but was sold to a plantation in Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti) after he was caught teaching enslaved Africans to read.
- The moniker “Bookman/Boukman” was an indication of how slave owners viewed enslaved Blacks at the time who knew how to read.
- Boukman held a few prominent positions in his lifetime, serving as a commander (slave driver) and later a coach driver.
- Through his positions, Boukman was able to hold secret meetings with other enslaved Africans in Haiti. He became a pivotal voice in the soon-to-come Haitian Revolution.
- He’s said to have declared at one of these meetings at Bois-Caimon,” God who has created the shining sun above … is watching us and sees the misdeeds of the whites! The God of the whites demands crime … Our God who is so good orders us to take vengeance!”
- Just a week after that pivotal meeting and Bwa Kayman (Voudou) ceremony, the Haitian Revolution began on Aug. 24, 1791.
- Boukman is said to have led other enslaved Africans in a bloody revolt against the French.
- He was quickly captured by the French and beheaded, however. The French hoped to quell the revolution by parading Boukman’s head on a stake.
- Despite his death, the revolution raged on, eventually leading to the independent Republic of Haiti.
- Boukman is remembered for his leadership, courage and fearlessness during the war.
Dutty Boukman is part of our Black Rebel series for Black History Month.