The statue by sculptor Didier Audrat represents her with a raised fist clutching the declaration of Louis Delgrès, another Guadeloupean figure in the fight against slavery, the other hand protecting her round belly. It is located in the garden already bearing his name, inaugurated in September 2020, in the 17th arrondissement of Paris.
“The actions we take must have meaning in relation to those we want to honor but also in relation to the future”, declared the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, explaining that the inauguration of this statue represented “an act of reparation vis-à-vis the descendants and descendants of slavery”, but also “a message to the generations to come”.
“Black women in statue there are already some in Paris, but these are allegorical statues of representations of Africa, of an exotic continent”, declared for his part Jean-Marc Ayrault, former Prime Minister and President of the Foundation for the Memory of Slavery. “Today it is not the abstract idea that is represented, it is a woman whose name and destiny we know, a woman and a mother, a Guadeloupean and a Frenchwoman, a rebel and a citizen, in when power had ceased to believe in freedom,” he added.
Of Solitude, born a slave at the end of the 18th century, we only know the name and the circumstances of her death: her execution on November 29, 1802 in Guadeloupe for having participated in the revolt against the restoration of slavery decreed by the First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte, who shook the island a few months earlier.
Captured, Solitude escaped the gallows for a few months because she was pregnant and “her unborn child was a commodity that had value in that world”, recalled Jean-Marc Ayrault. But the young woman will be hanged the day after her delivery.
The abolition of slavery will not be decreed in France until 1848.
Solitude, she has become a legend in the West Indies, in particular thanks to her biography fictionalized by the writer André Schwartz-Bart, “the Mulatto Solitude” published 170 years after her death, in 1972. The wife of the biographer, Simone Schwartz-Bart, attended the unveiling of the statue on Tuesday.