28 May 18 - Colombier
Madam prefect, general secretary representing the prefect delegated to the communities of St Martin and St Barthélemy,
Ladies and gentlemen, Vice-Presidents,
Ladies and gentlemen, the elected representatives of the territorial council,
Mr. President of CESC,
Ladies and gentlemen representatives of cultural associations,
I am very happy for your presence in Colombier this morning for these commemorations of the 170th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.
A commemoration which for the first time takes place a May 28, historic date of the abolition of slavery in St. Martin that was revealed by the research of Mrs. Daniella Jeffry whom I salute, with the support of the Directorate of Archives Territorial and Community Heritage for administrative procedures.
I thank the Prefect and her services who accompanied us in this process which resulted in the publication of a circular authorizing us to celebrate this Monday 28 May. Now remains to obtain the final ministerial decree that will set the 28 May as the official date of commemoration in St. Martin.
To be able to commemorate this major event of our history at the right date was for us Saint-Martinois an important historic act and I look forward to seeing you again this Monday 28 May, in Colombier.
This celebration was "delocalised" this year, since we do not celebrate this event at the feet of Lady Libertybut in the heart of one of the most picturesque and authentic villages of St. Martin.
It was my desire to be here this morning. And I welcome it because like all Saint-Martinois without doubt, I have a particular fondness for Colombier ...
For its landscapes of course, its heritage safeguarded, for these testimonies of our material or immaterial history but so palpable, for this incomparable smell of earth returned after the rain and the thermometer which falls suddenly under the shelter of the big trees ... But especially because for the Saint-Martinois that I am, Colombier represents the Saint Martin of yesteryear, the proud one, solidly camped on its values of solidarity and mutual aid.
Time does not seem to have a hold on Colombier and the safeguarding and the enhancement of this authenticity, we owe it to the families who live there forever and who cultivate, on a daily basis, this warm-hearted togetherness.
It is therefore with even greater emotion this year that I share this commemoration of the 170th anniversary of the abolition of slavery with you all this morning ...
In 1794, the First Republic abolishes slavery in the French colonies.
Restored by the Consulate in 1802, it was definitively abolished at the initiative of Victor Schoelcher by the Second Republic, the 27 April 1848.
Dates that prove to us, if need be, that slavery is not compatible with the Republic.
Profoundly Republican, I do not forget that the Republic was built with the abolitionist movement, but I do not forget either, that if 1848 was the year of the abolition, it also marks the beginning of a very long period of forgetfulness: it took decades indeed for us to finally begin, to leave the silence and the unsaid and that we begin, together, to face this abomination of our history.
Yes, it took some time before the determination of Commander Delgrès, the courage of Toussaint-Louverture, the resistance of the mulatto Solitude or Chestnuts Dimitile and Cimendef finally find a timid place in the textbooks of our children ...
They are, however, just like our revolutionaries and our resisters, heroes of the History of France.
There is still a long way to go to ensure that the very memory of slavery fully finds its place in our national history, but I am proud that our country was the first country in the world, in 2001, to be enshrined in the law. , recognition of the slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity.
The fight against slavery continues, because it is not a fight against the past: it is, on the contrary, a fight of the present.
Racism was born of slavery, because it needed a justification, that of the existence of inferior "races", to make a man a "movable good" according to the terms of the Black Code.
The tragedies of yesterday, the struggles of our ancestors require from us the greatest respect and the greatest vigilance, they impose us a daily fight against the discriminations. Especially when these discriminations, in these times of crisis and loss of benchmarks, put so much harm to the French society.
The fight against slavery is also topical, because according to the United Nations, some 40 million people in the world remain victims.
Slavery, the exploitation of man by man, the forced labor of children, the commodification of women's bodies ... All this still persists in the facts. You probably still have in mind, like me, these unsustainable images filmed by CNN recently, of these African migrants captured in Libya, and sold on a market like cattle. These sad realities have not disappeared, they are everyday, they affect millions of people. These are realities that challenge every day humanity, but also France, in its values and in its motto.
The fight for human rights demands our perseverance.