Emancipation Day is a way for people of African descent in the Caribbean to remind themselves that they too are the sons and daughters of Africa.
English-speaking countries throughout the Caribbean celebrate Emancipation Day on Aug. 1. The public holiday was by no means gifted by the British Empire or even white abolitionists. It was the result, according to Ajamu Nangwaya of “accumulate covert and overt acts" of resistance by enslaved Africans.
Emancipation Day was first "established," after the British Parliament passed the Slave Emancipation Act in 1833 banning its policy of enslaving and transporting Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean islands.
Trinidad and Tobago later became the first country in the world to declare a public holiday to celebrate the abolition of slavery, replacing Columbus Discovery Day, which commemorated Columbus' landing at Moruga on 31 July 1498.
The British declaration, purposefully, did not mention the growing number of revolts and establishment of free territories of Black people throughout the Caribbean and mainland Americas, the most successful of which was the Haitian Revolution, resulting in the first Black Republic in the Americas on January 1, 1804.
Almost 28 years later, after the Haitian Revolution, insurgents, led by Jamaica's Sam Sharpe, initiated a general strike, envisioning emancipation, on Dec. 28, 1831. It involved roughly a fifth of the island's 300,000 slaves. They ruined, by fire or hatchet — similar to recent revolts in Haiti against government attempts at a structural adjustment plan —145 plantations valued at 200,000 British pounds.
Emancipation Day is a way for people of African descent in the Caribbean to remind themselves that they too are the sons and daughters of Africa and their freedom came through sacrifice and struggle. It is also a means to celebrate their culture and customs after nearly 400 years of European colonization and slavery, forced to change their names, religions, beliefs, languages and more.