Blackness in the Americas: Resistance, Rebellion, Revolution, Rights

An interactive timeline project

When Black people get free, everybody gets free.

— Alicia Garza, in A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots.

— Michel-Rolph Trouillot, in Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995)

For silencing…is an erasure more effective than the absence or failure of memory, whether faked or genuine.

— Trouillot,p. 60

The quotes above capture two central goals of this project: to unearth marginalized histories in the Americas and to then uplift Black narratives and cultural contributions. As early as European invaders came to the shores of the Americas, free and enslaved Black people were present — bearing the burden of nation-making, resisting their enslavers, and enriching all of the spaces they would inhabit by building families, communities, art, and much more, wherever they were.   We read and grieved over the violence of these histories, but we saw the insistence of Blackness as beautiful, strong, rebellious, and every other attribute of humanity. By uncovering the intertwined histories of colonization, capitalism, and enslavement, we have begun the project of understanding the afterlife of enslavement and the current geopolitical systemic disadvantages the Black people face in the Americas.   While recognizing and honoring these histories, our timeline additionally celebrates the incredible and innumerable artistic, spiritual, philosophical, and political contributions Black people and groups have made throughout the Americas. We will share with you events that represent and celebrate themes of resistance to European/white culture, cultural exchange, struggle for national representation, Afro-diasporic dance, music, art, literature, Carnival, Black beauty, empowered Black people of all walks of life, as well as political and philosophical commitments to the idea of Blackness.  Through each other’s wisdom and the unyielding support of Miriam Neptune and Dr. Ginetta Candelario, we absorbed as much knowledge as we could in the process of creating this timeline. We hope this digital and archival resource enlightens you as much as it enlightened us. 

-- Students of SOC 222: Blackness in the Americas, Smith College, Fall 2015

Continue to the Timeline