7/26 The Roots of Abolition in the Jamaican Rebellion w/ Tom Zoellner

July 26, 2021

Emma hosts Tom Zoellner, Professor at Chapman University and political editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books, to discuss his recent book “Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire,” on the Jamaican rebellion of 1831 and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Professor Zoellner situates us between the Haitian revolution and the U.S. Civil War, centuries into the institution of slavery in the Caribbean with the drive for manumission beginning to bubble over, before touching on how British slavery came to the island, with Oliver Cromwell’s claiming of colonies, such as Jamaica, from other European empires. Next, he and Emma delve into the progression of abolitionist action in Jamaica from the 18th to 19th Centuries, with Tacky’s Rebellion setting the stage for the success of Baptist and Methodist missionaries in establishing a movement of enslaved peoples’ organization and self-determination. They, then, move onto the role of Sam Sharpe, an enslaved Jamaican who capitalized on the growing literacy and religious solidarity among his fellow slaves by organizing the 1831 general strike that would grow into the rebellion, and how his tactics reflect those used by rebellious groups throughout history, before he was executed by the British colonizers in 1832. Zoellner wraps up the interview by looking into how the news of the rebellion eventually reached London and resulted in the determination that the institution of slavery was simply no longer worthwhile, and how, despite the only reparations going to slaveholders, the abolition of slavery in the British Empire saw celebration by abolitionists across the western world. Emma concludes the first half with discussions on Donald Trump’s claim to vaccine fame and Rep. Cliff Bentz’s attempt to blame rising forest fires on the buildup of all that darn wood that never used to be there!

And in the Fun Half: Dave from Jamaica expresses his frustration with the failure of history classes to appropriately teach the Jamaican rebellion and how its causes are reflected today, and engages the MR crew in a discussion on how this can be combatted across the globe. They touch on NYC’s new vaccination requirements, the rampant rates of the delta variant, and inquire as to what it would actually take for the U.S. to properly address the pandemic, before the episode moves into some good schadenfreude as Matthew of Philly gives an update on a win for Amazon employees and the crew admires one citizen’s accosting of Tucker Carlson as an incredibly enjoyable, even if not productive, clip from this weekend. Warren from Toronto calls in to talk sports, culture war, and progressivism, and Matt Walsh defends his daughters’ honor from dishonorably serving with honor for an honest imperialist cause, plus, your calls and IMs!

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