Moi égal à toi: Emacipated Africans in French Revolution

Liberté, égalité, fraternité were the ideal put forth during the French Revolution. The debate began among French citizens Black and White, do the ideals of the revolution belong to the colonial subjects of the French Republic. Those who truly supported liberté, égalité, fraternité demanded emancipation of enslaved men, women, and children. They promoted these ideas through pro-emancipation and pro-equality propaganda.

Examples of images from the French Revolution featuring men and women of African descent survive. Note in most of the images the subject is wearing a pendant in the form of a architects or masons square. It is more than likely the symbol for the quality of character which has made “a square man” synonymous with equality, uprightness, honesty and dependability.

One man is wearing the red phrygian, cap while the others have head wraps that resemble the phrygian cap in shape. The phrygian cap, also called the liberty cap, signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty.


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