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A Clever Hero: Slave Revolt Leader Charles Deslondes
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A Clever Hero: Slave Revolt Leader Charles Deslondes

MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

In a moment, the Barbershop guys weigh in on the news of the week.

But, first, we're going to continue with our Black History Month salute. We've invited members of the TELL ME MORE staff, a few of our guests and our NPR colleagues, to share stories about the figure or event from black history that they most admire.

Today we hear from a familiar voice for those who listen to the network on weekend afternoons.

GUZ RAZ, Host:

This is Guy Raz, the host of Weekends on All Things Considered. And my black history hero is Charles Deslonde.

Deslonde was ostensibly a loyal slave driver, a slave who also oversaw his master's vast plantation. He was feared by enslaved Africans and trusted by white plantation owners. But all the while, Charles Deslonde was plotting, planning and preparing.

And on the night of January 8th, 1811, along Louisiana's German coast, he led the largest slave uprising in American history. Five hundred slaves joined Deslonde and his co-conspirators as they made their way past the plantations along the road to New Orleans. It was a proud battalion of black faces. Most of them dressed in military uniforms, some of them on horseback all marching in formation and it stunned white New Orleans.

MARTIN: death or freedom. Deslonde and his contingent knew that. And in the end, they were outgunned. Ninety-five slaves were eventually executed. Deslonde was maimed and tortured beforehand. But in death, Deslonde and these other martyrs of American history found their dignity and, of course, their freedom.

MARTIN: That was Guy Raz, host of WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, saluting Charles Deslonde. To browse the full series of TELL ME MORE black history essays, log on to npr.org and in the search field type black history heroes.

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