Dutty Boukman, The Fearless Leader Who Helped Spark the Haitian Revolution

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Dutty Boukman
Image courtesy of NewAfrikan77.

Dutty Boukman ( ??? – November 7, 1791)

  1. 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.
  2. The moniker “Bookman/Boukman” was an indication of how slave owners viewed enslaved Blacks at the time who knew how to read.
  3. Boukman held a few prominent positions in his lifetime, serving as a commander (slave driver) and later a coach driver.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!”
  6. Just a week after that pivotal meeting and Bwa Kayman (Voudou) ceremony, the Haitian Revolution began on Aug. 24, 1791.
  7. Boukman is said to have led other enslaved Africans in a bloody revolt against the French.
  8.  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.
  9. Despite his death, the revolution raged on, eventually leading to the independent Republic of Haiti.
  10. 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. 

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