Visionary Aponte Symposium
“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines.
You may trod me in the very dirt,but still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
– Maya Angelou
José Antonio Aponte, often known as “Black” José Aponte, (died April 9, 1812, in Havana) was a Cuban activist, military officer and carpenter of Yoruba origin who organized one of the most prominent slave rebellions in Cuba, the Aponte Conspiracy of 1812. He had formally been the first corporal in Havana’s black militia and was the leader of his local Yoruba association. Aponte was a free black carpenter in Havana was proclaimed to be was the leader of a plot to rebel against the Cuban government, free the slaves and uplift free people of color, and overthrow slavery in Cuba. The movement struck several sugar plantations on the outskirts of Havana, but it was soon crushed by the government.
Aponte created a book of drawings that is claimed to have been the blueprints for the rebellion of 1812, for which he was convicted along with eight of his cohorts. He was eventually caught and hanged on the gallows on April 9, 1812, and decapitated. His head was placed in an iron cage and showcased in front of the house where he lived and his hand went on display in another street.
On January 13, 2018, authors and researchers Ada Ferrer and Linda Rodriguez of New York University, Greg Childs of Brandeis University, and Alejandro de la Fuente of Harvard University exchanged ideas, historical facts, and conversations regarding the life of José Antonio Aponte as a visionary of art and Black freedom. Please visit this amazing Knight Arts Challenge funded exhibition before it’s gone inside the Little Haiti Cultural Complex.
The work of Ada Ferrer will be featured in the upcoming book “Havana and Haiti: Two Cultures, One Community.” Democracy breathes with the hopes and dreams of the oppressed.