BlackLAN member Diane Jones Allen has written a powerful story about the swampland communities created by self-liberated slaves and what these communities can teach us about coping with climate disruption.
Maroons were self-liberated slaves who learned to survive in and make adaptations to the southeastern American wetlands in which they took refuge, including the Great Dismal Swamp spanning parts of North Carolina and Virginia, and the Louisiana Central Wetlands, covering nearly 30,000 acres adjacent to Lake Borgne in New Orleans. The Africans and African Americans who came to dwell in these places between 1718 — after the founding of the French colony of Louisiana — and 1863 — when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued — chose not to travel north to seek freedom. Instead they created free communal societies in an environment that challenged them with swampy ground, extreme heat, insects, snakes, and alligators, yet at the same time nourished and protected them. These landscapes were places of danger, beauty, and secrets, two worlds at once — neither solid nor submerged; not completely safe from slaveholders and slavecatchers, but not easily navigable by them. Maroon communities were separated from relatives and friends still enslaved on the plantations, yet maintained regular if clandestine communication with them.