“American Maroon” 2023 is a documentary that revolves around the foundational Black American rebel fighters who escaped slavery during the time when it was officially rampant in America. Directed by Tariq Nasheed, the documentary shows how they fought the oppressive American forces and is a tribute to the unsung heroes of this rebellion.
The documentary begins with the pertinent question of who the real Aboriginal people of America were. Professor James Small (Historian) believed that there were people who came via the Baring Strait to America and fought with the indigenous negro people living there. Historian Dr. Phil Valentine shares a similar sentiment by adding that they were people from Mongolia, and the ones who lived in America were the Coppertones (people crisscrossing between Africa and America). Dr. Kaba Kamene (Historian) and Chase Mcghee (author) talk about Luzia (an African woman’s skeleton dated back around 15,000 years ago). People from Africa also came to trade with the Aboriginals of America, and one name that is highlighted by Dr.Oya Ma’at (Historian/ Educator) is that of Abu Bakari II, who landed in Brazil. Dr. Randy Short (Historian/ Author) further weighs in on the claims of Dr.Oya Ma’at.
Dr. Kaba Kamene talks about the evidence of a negro woman’s remains in San Diego, California, which can be dated back to 80,000–90,000 years ago, and also says that the migration from Africa to America occurred in waves. Nerissa Reaves (Educator) talks about the Egyptian writings found in different parts of America and also about the book by David Imhotep, “The First Americans Were Africans,” which showcases a similar subject matter. Tariq Nasheed, the director, talks about the types of trade that occurred between these two communities. The speakers in the documentary are able to provide enough evidence here to show that Africans were already present in America before the invasion of the Red Indians and also before the landing of Christopher Columbus.
The breaking of the myth that the name “America” was given after Amerigo Vespucci occurs here. Variations of the name America existed before European exploration, including Albatigo (until 1500), Americua (land of the great winds), and many more. When the Europeans came to America, they often compared the Aboriginal people to those of Africa and the Moors who occupied Spain. The Moors were eventually run down by the European Christian powers, who chased them down to Africa. Tariq Nasheed, even highlights that, according to folk legends, the origin of Thanksgiving and Turkey can be traced back to the Turkish Moors. Many speakers in the documentary claim that the voyage of Christopher Columbus was set for the Americas as he had Moors on board as translators and the whole idea of the “New World” was scripted. The Moors did already have contact with the Aboriginals of America, and that is why they were needed by Columbus. The Moors became the first enslaved Africans to be brought to the West in 1492. Dr. Octavia Jackson (Activist) then tells us that Spain started conquering the Americas in the late 15th century and has done so except for Brazil and the British Colonies, which later became the United States. Tariq Nasheed tells about Iome, who was one of the first Spanish explorers to come to North America and brought enslaved black people, probably Moors, to the American continent. A colony was set up in the South Carolina-Georgia area, but the black people revolted, burned everything down, and blended with the local Aboriginals.
The historical narrative is a bit tainted, telling us that Europeans were the ones who brought culture and civilization to the dark savages, as it seemed the other way around. Dr.Oya Ma’at says that everywhere there was slavery, there were Maroon communities. The term Maroon was derived from the Spanish term “cimarron” meaning “runway.” The Maroons made several allies to protect themselves and also came into contact with Sir Francis Drake to take revenge on the Spaniards. The Spanish, the French, and the British, among many others, failed to set up a colony in the Americas, but the Maroons had a close relationship with the ecosystem, without whose help the formation of colonies would have been impossible in the Americas. Maroons would live in swamp areas, and one such settlement where they lived for centuries was the Great Dismal Swamp, an area between southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The Great Dismal Swamp became a safe haven for the Maroons, runaway slaves, and plantation workers because the American army could not invade the place. Tariq Nasheed informs us that the Red Indians sided with the European powers on several occasions against the black Aboriginal people of America, and that is how so many black people were captured into slavery. He also mentions that black people using the Underground Railroad did not all go to Canada; many lodged themselves in the swamps and stayed independently.
A key event is then highlighted, in 1693, the Spanish offered a treaty that allowed runways to enter Florida, stay as free individuals as long as they protected it from the British, and turn into Catholics. In 1814, a fort in Florida was built by the British overlooking the Appalachian Mountains. It was later taken over by the Marrons and became Fort Negro. The Europeans felt threatened by it as it became the first step for the blacks to become an independent nation, but Andrew Jackson and the US military blew up the fort. The Maroons understood they could not fight open wars but had to shift to guerilla warfare. The Seminole and Maroons gave a great beating to the US soldiers in the first Seminole war, which the media printed as a war with the native Indians. Not only did they run Andrew Jackson out of Florida, but he told the media that they won the war. During the Seminole wars, several leaders like John Hoarse, Abraham, Osceola, and many more attacked plantations, freed slaves, and urged them to join the Maroon cause. It was General Jesup who first acknowledged that the US Army was fighting a war against the Black Maroon and not the Red Indians and also tricked Osceola into arrest. Later, General Jesup was forced to come up with a proclamation for the independence of the Maroons and their allies if they left Florida and stayed in the Indian territory in Oklahoma. Though there were many loopholes in the deal, a part of the black population moved while a few stayed back and continued the fight. The US military again tried to capture the Maroons in Oklahoma and put them back in enslavement, but many of them fled to Mexico, where slavery was already abolished.
After the Civil War, when slavery ended, many Maroons went back to Oklahoma and were responsible for the formation of Black Wall Street. Things went south when there were racial riots and many black folks were killed. But as they carried Maroon’s blood with them, many revolted, and several of them killed many white supremacists before they were lynched. During the turbulent 1960s in the USA when the Civil Rights Movement occurred, the Maroon spirit was clearly visible, and the rise of the Black Panther and Mau Mau further proves it. The Maroon spirit is still alive in different facets of life and will thrive for many generations to come.
‘American Maroon’ Ending
Tariq Nasheed, via “American Maroon,” 2023, tells the tale of oppression and resistance that have been concealed from the world for so long. The Maroons are not individuals but rather an idea that will fight back against its oppressors and take what is rightfully theirs.