The German Coast Uprising of 1811 in Louisiana was reportedly the largest slave revolt in American history, though few outside the area even know about it. This weekend, a reenactment of the uprising led by artist and activist Dread Scott (pictured) will highlight the historical significance of the moment.
The German Coast Uprising took place on January 8, 1811 in the town of LaPlace, La., some 25 miles northwest of New Orleans. The area was known as the German Coast due to a settlement of German natives in the region. Slave overseer Charles Deslondes, a reportedly mixed-race slave, led the revolt.
Under the guidance of Deslondes, the group gathered slaves and Maroons for the revolt, numbering up until 500 people. Armed with mostly hand tools and a limited number of guns, the group began making their way torching a few homes in the process. During the clash, two white men were killed in comparison to the 95 Black lives the armed white militia took, including dozens of killings that occurred without due process or a trial.
Annual celebrations of the uprising have been held in the region since 1995, but artist and activist Dread Scott, who spent six years planning this weekend’s two-day event, hopes that history remembers the courage of the rebels first and foremost, instead of what was lost.