Monument honoring the abolition of vandalized slavery in France

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France definitively abolished slavery in 1848, but before that, it had an important slave trade, sending more than a million Africans to the colonies of the Americas.

Galvanized by global protests over the death of George Floyd in the United States, some black rights activists in France have intensified their efforts to shed light on the country’s colonial past and the slave trade. In turn, this has caused a backlash from some far-right figures.

Among the targets of anti-racist groups is Jean-Baptiste Colbert, general controller of finance for France under King Louis XIV. Colbert’s doctrine of state intervention in the economy is still celebrated and widely taught – but what is less known is that Colbert wrote the Code Noir, or Code Noir, which was promulgated two years after his death to regulate the conditions of slavery in the French colonies.

Police blocked access to France’s largest statue of Colbert, outside the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, overlooking the Seine in Paris.

Police are also protecting a statue of French military commander Joseph Gallieni in central Paris. Gallieni, the military governor of the city during the First World War, used brutal methods to quell the rebellion of local populations in the French colonies, including as governor of Madagascar where he abolished the 350-year-old monarchy of l ‘Isle.

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