Meet Haiti’s founding father, whose black revolution was too radical for Thomas Jefferson

A statue of independence hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines is silhouetted in the early morning sky in Dessalines Park on the anniversary of his assassination in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Dessalines was the leader of the Haitian Revolution against France and the nation’s first ruler after independence. Considered Haiti’s founding father, Dessalines was assassinated in 1806. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

By Julia Gaffield, Georgia State University

Crowds cheered as local lawmakers on August 18 unveiled a street sign showing that Rogers Avenue in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn would now be called Jean-Jacques Dessalines Boulevard, after a Haitian slave turned revolutionary general.

When Dessalines declared Haiti’s independence from France in 1804 after a…

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