Recognizing December 20-26, 2021, as the Week of the Commemoration of the First Black Revolt Against Slavery in the Americas

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Senate Resolution No. 1715


RECOGNIZING December 20-26, 2021, as the Week of
the Commemoration of the First Black Revolt Against
Slavery in the Americas

WHEREAS, This Legislative Body is justly proud to commemorate the
first historically recorded Black Antislavery Rebellion in the Americas
on December 20-26, 2021, the 500th Anniversary of this historic event;

WHEREAS, On the "second day of Christmas" in December of 1521,
African Black enslaved people working at the Montealegre cane-sugar
plantation west of Santo Domingo City escaped from the plantation and,
with rage unforeseen by their Spanish colonial masters, marched through
a number of other plantations with the intention of recruiting
additional fellow slaves into their uprising to overthrow the colonial
local regime that kept them in bondage and set enslaved black people in
the island-colony free; and

WHEREAS, The sugar plantation owner and slave master against whose
power the 1521 rebel slaves revolted was no other than the highest
political authority of colonial La Espanola and of the entire Spanish
empire as it existed at the time on the Caribbean islands and parts of
the Mainland, namely governor and viceroy Diego Columbus, son of
Christopher Columbus and heir of the political titles conferred to his
father by the Spanish Kings in reward for facilitating Spanish dominion
over additional territories in the Americas; and

WHEREAS, With the benefit of superior weapons and after about a week
of chasing and fighting, the Spaniards quelled the insurrection and
restored the overall order to La Espanola's slaveholding society, but so
much fear was generated by the revolt among the colonists' population
that colonial authorities had to quickly resort to promulgating new
ordinances that included very harsh punishments and death penalty for
those who incurred in any form of resistance or disobedience against the
slavery-based political and social order; and

WHEREAS, The Santo Domingo black slaves' insurrection of 1521
generated such a great degree of concern among the colonial authorities
of La Espanola that maintained a slave-holding social order as to move
said authorities to issue a distinctly severe and harsh code of
ordinances to control and punish the enslaved Black population of La
Espanola, the oldest "black code" of the Americas whose text has been
archivally preserved; and

WHERAS, Awareness and knowledge about the 1521 Santo Domingo slave
rebellion and the ensuing 1522 first instance of a "black code" has
until very recently remained limited, and for too long confined to a
miniscule number of people, especially a limited number of scholars
specializing in the research and writing about the beginnings of Europe-
an conquest and colonization of the Americas; and

WHEREAS, In 2019, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at The City
College of New York published the first academic monograph devoted to

the black slaves' rebellion of 1521 in Santo Domingo, disseminating for
the first time images, transcriptions and translations of the 16th
century archival sources about the rebellion, including the chronicle
about it and the text of the subsequent "black laws" enacted by the
colonial authorities as a response; CUNY DSI continues to engage in
research to further clarify important facts pertaining to the rebellion,
as it has been the case of an archaeological survey in Santo Domingo
during the summer of 2021 in search for the probable location where the
rebellion started; and

WHEREAS, Furthermore, CUNY DSI, the Black Studies Program at the
City College of New York and Centro Cultural Eduardo Leon Jimenes in
Santiago, Dominican Republic, have sponsored a large academic virtual
conference on December 2nd and 3rd of 2021, to commemorate the 500th
Anniversary of the rebellion by convening scholars and artists to share
the most recent knowledge about black resistance in the early colonial
Americas, further contributing to public awareness on these important
historical events; and

WHEREAS, The Santo Domingo slave rebellion of 1521 is the first
known direct and open confrontation of enslaved Black people against
their enslavers in the Americas in modern times on which a historical
archival record exists, and it provoked the production and enacting also
in Santo Domingo in 1522, of the first known set of colonial ordinances
specifically targeted at black slaves and black people in the Americas,
initiating a centuries-long trend of production of officially sanctioned
legal systems to further control and subjugate black people in the
Continent; and

WHEREAS, The Santo Domingo slave rebellion of 1521 initiated a long
trend of revolts by Black slaves in La Espanola and the Americas that
challenged slavery during subsequent centuries, and it is vivid proof of
the relentless struggle for freedom and dignity by people of black
African ancestry since the earliest dates of their presence in the
Continent; and

WHEREAS, The pioneering historical significance of the Santo Domingo
1521 Black slave rebellion is a powerful source of inspiration for civic
action aimed at the elimination of injustice and the establishment and
consolidation of human freedom and equality, and thus should be part of
the collective historical memory of all freedom-loving people in the
Americas, including the people of the United States and the State of New
York; and

WHERAS, The public collective memory about the Santo Domingo 1521
Black anti-slavery rebellion, together with all other past instances of
people's resistance against slavery and oppression either in colonial or
contemporary times should be facilitated by teaching in public schools
at all levels and by instruction and research in our universities; and

WHEREAS, New York State has traditionally been, and continues to be,
the largest hub of Dominican-American population in the United States,
and the collective heritage of Dominican-Americans is an integral part
of the cultural and social mosaic of the communities where
Dominican-Americans reside; and

WHEREAS, New York State welcomes and embraces the legacies of
fighting for the achievement of freedom and equality brought in by its

immigrant citizens and their children from around the world; now,
therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body recognize December 20-26, 2021,
as the Week of the Commemoration of the First Black Revolt Against
Slavery in the Americas.


  • 20 / Jan / 2022

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative


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