Shameful Omission Of Black Anti-Slavery Campaigners From History

Why are key figures in the history of slavery notably absent from the curriculum?
Slavery. Right now you’re thinking of Mississippian cotton fields staffed by legions of battered, bruised and beaten slaves while slave drivers carefully watch with whips at hand.

Now if I were to ask you to think of some leading abolitionists, chances are that William Wilberforce will make an appearance, along side William Roscoe and Josiah Wedgwood. You might even remember the famous “Am I not a man and a brother” sketch produced to support the movement.

We are taught that because of pressure from the abolitionist movement, slavery ended in Britian and similarly movements in the other Great Powers led to similar success.

However that’s not the case, although it is certain that such movements played their part, the main reason that Slaves became free was because they fought for it, how many times do you remember your teacher telling you about Ignatius Sancho? Or Nanny of the Maroons? Or Paul Bogle? Or Toussaint Louverture? Or Jean-Jacque Dessalines?

You may be thinking that these people are obscure rebels that have little or no effect on the grand scheme of history, however without the last two names the United States of America would not exist today in its current form.

The Haitian Revolution forced the French Empire to sell off its huge tracts of lands in North America due to the lost of revenue (Haiti was then the richest colony in the world). The French turned to the Americans and the Louisiana Purchase took place, buying the land for less than 3 cent an acre, and although it is true that Manifest Density was already taking hold of America, if Haiti was still filling up the French’s coffers how long would’ve it been until they decide to sell to the Americans? How long until the US simply took the land? 50, 60, 70 years of waiting makes a big difference to how the country would be formed today, that revolution literally changed global history.

But if that isn’t enough for you, I have to ask if the current way of teaching history is correct and we are taught to believe that white slave owners (Who made huge amounts of money from the slave trade) suddenly changed their mind, why were the slave masters given compensation and those that suffered not given a thing? Why then Jim Crow, why Apartheid? Why did Black Wall Street burn that night?  Why does the education system exclude Blacks from this topic? Why do we ignore the role the Royal Navy played in ending the slave trade? How men in outdated and outgunned ships would often take on fleets of slave ships in what was an often unthanked task.

We need an overhaul in every department of education, but history especially needs a long hard look at how it is taught to our children.

“Those who are taught their race solved every problem tend to ignore the problems they caused”

Gareth Shanks tweets as @GarethShanks


  1. Great article! I would have much preferred to have learnt about the abolitionists than about the Tudors in school. The book ‘Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism’ has a really good chapter on the abolition period, and about how many abolitionists (both white and black) were secular humanists. One abolitionist and former slave, Frederik Douglass, had a really interesting life.


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