Chapo Ba…in which we pay tribute to a person who’s had significant impact on Haitian culture.
We had to place just two of his roles in Haitian history, so as not to run out of space, but the truth is, Antenor Firmin was not only a man of state, an intellectual but also an intellectual, an activist, an attorney, an educator and an opponent of ahem, anti-black racism.
As an activist, Firmin according to Brenda Plummer was against Haitian law that prohibited foreigners from owning land, as he saw it as detrimental to foreign investment in Haiti.
As a defender of the black race, in 1885 Firmin wrote De Légalité des Races Humaines, which was translated in English as On the Equality of the Human Races. In the book, Firmin blasted those who insisted that the black race were inferior, and wrote an extensive dissertation of accomplishments and intellectual maturity of the black race from the time as a rebuttal to a series of publications, articles, and speeches that were popular at the time in France (in particular a particular essay by Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau), the USA, and elsewhere that painted the black race as a sub-specie.
Today, this book has accumulated recognition as one of the most powerful works on the subject, and one of the most influential.
Joseph Antenor Firmin was born in Cap Haitian into bourgeois family, but unlike the other elite children of the time, he wasn’t shipped off to Paris, or anywhere offshore for his education.
In 2000, the American Anthropological Association labeled him and his work as “a remarkable figure in anthropology” in its newsletter, but today very few outside of anthropology and historical circles know him though he remains an enigma for all those who are knowledgeable about the history of anthropology.