How Maroons Forged Freedom in Florida's Wilderness

black seminole
Adé Hennis
February 14, 2024

From the 1700s to the 1850s, maroons, or Africans who had escaped enslavement, found refuge in Florida’s Seminole territory. They used their limited resources to create limitless opportunities.

Maroons who settled near or in indigenous Seminole territory were referred to as Black Seminoles. Although they were technically still enslaved, Black Seminoles grew crops, interpreted for indigenous Natives, and even became military leaders. They didn’t care whether or not they were enslaved under the law or what they were called; they just knew that they were going to turn their community into something great.

As Black Seminole communities grew, they became safe havens for other maroons. And when that safety was threatened, our people were not afraid to protect each other.

During the Seminole Wars of the early 19th century, Black Seminoles fought the U.S. Army’s forced relocation efforts. It didn’t matter to the Black Seminoles how big the army was, because their determination to protect themselves was even bigger.

Even though other maroons joined the Black Seminoles, they were welcomed and protected just like everyone else. Their unity showed that despite our cultural differences, Black people around the world can unify to fight for Black liberation.

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