The Opening

Freedom. That word has a different meaning for everybody. If I asked a room full of people to describe what freedom means to them, I would get a variety of answers. If I asked a room full of people today, 10 years ago, and 100 years ago to describe freedom, I would get an even larger variety of answers. Toussaint L’Ouverture freed the slaves of Haiti, before it was known as Haiti. Touissant, was born in 1776, which may ring a bell as the year that America gained its independence. However, not everybody was free in America. The Native Americans had been pushed off their land, and the blacks were slaves, pure and simple.

Today, Haitians are almost entirely decedents of slaves, which I think says a lot about the people who owned them. You may hear “Haiti” and think of a country with a poor infrastructure, which was recently hit hard by a severe earthquake in 2010. The fact of the matter is- the help has just never been there. The location of Haiti isn’t ideal, necessary, and with the other environmental effects such as global warming, there is a limit to what can be done. However, in the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Toussaint had to fight against, “what could the death of one wretched Negro mean to me?”

Really, that is all that a leader thought of another leader. What could possibly have made Napoleon superior to Toussaint? He certainly was not more humane, and did not have the best interests of humankind in mind. He only thought about himself whereas Toussaint led a group of people to stand up for themselves and fight against evil.

I should take this opportunity to mention that Toussaint was born a slave, but lived as a free man during the fight against France for freedom. This is remarkable in two ways: first, we must acknowledge that a free man returned to his roots and fought for other people who were in his position to be affording his luxuries. Second, we commend that L’Overture used his freedom to be heard and help move the revolution forward. This demonstrates that having an elevated position does speak, but those in elevated positions do not always take that road.

L’Overture died in captivity at the hands of Napoleon (by proxy), however, his work did not go unnoticed or forgotten. Toussaint opened the door for slaves everywhere, not just in Haiti and the neighboring present-day Dominican Republic, but for slaves in America as well. His courage and willingness to fight gave others the same courage and dedication to making sure that slaves were a thing of the past. Although nothing happened overnight, and many people resisted then and continue to resist now, the work of one man truly has opened doors everywhere.

For anybody to say that they cannot make a difference as one person is absolutely ludicrous. Each and every person can make a difference, if he or she only has the courage to try.


Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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