We’re all too familiar with the recitation of Black history—both in the US and globally—as an unrelenting catalog of sorrow and loss: slavery, Jim Crow, police brutality and other structural racisms. But in “Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War,” historian Vincent Brown presents a different, far more nuanced story, detailing the strategic, political revolt orchestrated by enslaved West Africans in Jamaica in the 18th century.
Even in the dire world of Caribbean slavery, Brown reminds us that Black people were actors in their own story. Brown meticulously plumbs the archive to split open the received British wisdom about the revolt, to represent the enslaved as engineers of a revolt that, though “put down,” in fact destablilized the institution of Atlantic slavery and propelled it toward its eventual abolition.
For rewriting the traditional telling of a brutal era of history, Vincent Brown is the recipient of this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction.
Enjoy this profile on Brown from our 2021 documentary. You can watch the full program here.