Every 21 July is Schoelcher Day in Martinique. The day is set on Victor Schoelcher’s birthday and is meant to remember the positive contributions this early abolitionist leader made during his lifetime.
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Schoelcher was born in France to a wealthy family in 1804. He took a trip the Americas in 1829 and 1830, and upon returning to France, he began to write against slavery. In 1834, he founded an abolitionist society. He continued to write and fight for an end to slavery for decades, and in 1848, he headed up the French commission for the abolition of slavery.
A town in Martinique formerly called Case-Navire renamed itself “Schoelcher” in 1888 to honour him, and Schoelcher later moved to Martinique and was elected to the legislature there. He used his remaining years to work towards the abolition of slavery on all the Caribbean islands, including on Maritnique, and he donated part of his family’s fortune to promote the welfare of freed slaves in Martinique and elsewhere.