chapter  14
“I AM NOT THE SLAVE OF SLAVERY”
Pages 18

On May 23, 1998, for the first time in France, more than 20,000 Antilleans, Guyanese and Réunionnais demonstrated in the streets of Paris as Negroes.1 They marched silently from République to Nation, two of the city places whose names are associated with left and revolutionary politics, in honor of their foremothers and forefathers who died victims of slavery. It was an unprecedented event. Intellectuals, workers and artists claimed their filiation with their enslaved, ancestors and demanded the recognition of slavery as a crime against humanity. The demonstration was the expression of a will-to be present as descendants of slaves and colonized in the heart of France-and a response to the revisionist discourse of the French government. Indeed, the French government has chosen to commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the French colonies2 with a discourse of racial reconciliation whose effect has been to reduce the responsibility of the French state in the history of slavery and the role of the slaves’ revolts in its abolition.