Paris is about to erect a statue of a black woman involved in a 1802 rebellion against slavery on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.
The woman, called only Solitude, was captured and possibly executed.
Opening a public garden in her honor on Saturday, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called Solitude “a heroine” and a “strong symbol”.
France’s history of slavery has come under new scrutiny, in part due to US protests Black Lives Matter.
Vandalized statue lined up for the French code on slavery
- Colonial abuses haunt the debate on racism in France
There has been an inner quest for public commemoration of colonial figures such as the 17th-century statesman Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who codified slavery overseas and is remembered by a statue outside the national parliament in Paris.
But President Emmanuel Macron has spoken out against the removal of statues or names of controversial characters, offering instead “a clear look at our history and our memory”.
Who was the loneliness?
That tale reports that Solitude, a mixed-race woman, was arrested in the midst of “a band of rebels” during a revolt against slavery – which had been restored by Napoleon after being abolished during the French Revolution.
She was sentenced to death, the story notes, but she was allowed to give birth before she was “tortured” – an ambiguous term that could mean that she was actually put to death, such as through flogging.
Loneliness was portrayed in a 1972 work of fiction by the French writer André Schwarz-Bart and a statue already honors it in Les Abymes, Guadeloupe.
The Solitude Garden is located on Place du Général Catroux, in the northwest of Paris, where a statue will be erected over time.
- Black life is important