August 1st is a major holiday amongst several West Indian countries. Here’s why. Emancipation Day commemorates the abolition of slavery in Jamaica, Guyana, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent, Montserrat and Bermuda.
Emancipation Day is the official day slavery was abolished in the British territories, however, Black people remained in debt bondage between 1834-1838. Read Lauren’s blog about Emancipation Day in St. Kitts & Nevis here.
In 1848, slavery was abolished across the French colonies. In 1865, slavery was abolished in the United States and in 1888, slavery was officially banned in Brazil. However, sharecropping and apprenticeship replaced chattel slavery. In the US, sharecropping was debt bondage and prevented freed Africans from saving enough money to leave the plantations they worked on while enslaved.
Emancipation Day reminds me a lot of Juneteenth. Until June 19, 1865, enslaved Africans in Texas were not aware that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law two years prior. It’s obvious that slavery was never eradicated and instead transformed into convict leasing. Jim Crow laws legitimized systemic anti-Black racism.
As a result, convict leasing provided labor to private companies and plantation owners. Sounds a lot like the modern-day US prison system. Riots were launched in response to the inhumane act of bondage. Although August 1st marks Emancipation Day, Trinidad Carnival also celebrates the abolition of slavery and pride in our African identity.
In 1881, the government attempted to outlaw carnival, festivities, drumming, and the practice of African spirituality including Orisha which are deities of the Yoruba people. The Canboulay riots erupted against the police who were seen as the oppressor. The history of carnival is rooted in Black liberation. In case you didn’t know, carnival is a grassroots celebration for Black people, by Black people.
I launched GabarIskuFilan to capture my experiences as I document Black liberation from the perspective of solo female traveler. For the month of August, I will be posting a blog every day about varying topics: solo female travel, Black liberation, politics, carnival, womanhood and immigration. Stay tuned! This will be an exciting opportunity to learn and adventure together!