By Fighting For His Own Freedom, This Enslaved African Freed Dozens More

August 16, 2019

Sengbe Pieh was a simple rice farmer. But in 1839 he was captured, ripped away from his family and home, and sold into slavery in Cuba. 

He was determined to get back home and see his family again. So he hatched a plan.

Pieh learned how to escape the chains binding himself and the others. Then they waited for the perfect opportunity.

It arrived as one slave trader sold the crew to another, and started to ship them up the coast of Cuba.

In the middle of the night, Pieh freed his compatriots and rebelled! After killing the captain, they took over the ship and directed it to return to Africa.

Unfortunately, the sailor secretly directed the ship up to the United States, where the Africans were again captured. 

However, Pieh argued their case - they were illegally enslaved, because by this time the international slave trade had been abolished. It went all the way to the Supreme Court!

They were freed, and Pieh returned to Sierra Leone. What happened next is lost to history, though Pieh’s legacy will live on - in the film “Amistad” as well as in the cultural memory of all Black people.

It’s a reminder to never settle, to fight back, and that though it may seem impossible, freedom can be within our grasp!

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