Zumbi: The last king of Palmares - Marc Adam Hertzman & Flavio dos Santos Gomes
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Though one of the largest and longest-lasting, Palmares was hardly the only fugitive-slave community in Brazil or the Americas. Everywhere that whites enslaved them, Blacks resisted with actions that ranged from small daily forms of resistance (working slowly or breaking equipment) to flight and warfare. You can learn more about individuals who ran away using a new archive of runaway slave advertisements that help “personalize history, providing important clues about the lives of slaves, their efforts at self-emancipation, and the viewpoints of their masters.”
While flight is crucial for understanding fugitive settlements and other well-known forms of slave resistance, such as those led by Harriet Tubman and other facilitators of the Underground Railroad, it is also important to bear in mind that Palmares and many other maroon communities existed in a near-constant state of war with armies determined to destroy them. In other settings, enslaved people took up arms to fight for their freedom. In 1760 in Jamaica, 1,500 or more men and women launched a massive rebellions against the British. Historian Vincent Brown has created an interactive website to learn more about their remarkable story. Another historian, Sarah Roth, built a rich site for another iconic slave rebellion, Nat Turner’s famous 1831 uprising.
Today in Brazil, Zumbi is a national hero, a standing that has also made him the target of vicious attacks meant to undermine the advance of Black social movements.
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