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Updated: Feb 1, 2021

SANITE BELAIR, revolutionary, freedom fighter, sergeant, and later lieutenant of the Haitian Revolutionary Army under Toussaint L’Ouverture. ⁠

Belair was a pioneer in every sense of the word. Born a free woman, she dedicated her life to fighting for the emancipation of her people. She married Charles Belair, L’Ouverture’s nephew and chosen successor, fighting alongside him from the very beginning, eventually commanding her own troops. ⁠

Fighting bravely in her last assault, Sanite was hounded by the French into retreat and was captured. Such was the strength of the bond between husband and wife that he handed himself in on receiving news of her arrest, not wanting to be separated from her. She watched his execution by firing squad before which he asked her to die bravely. She was beheaded soon thereafter, going to her death calmly and refusing to be blindfolded. She was 21 years old, and he was 24.⁠

An icon of Black emancipation, Belair is also an important figure in the female liberation movement. Any conversation about the position of women in society and the ability of women to undertake military combat on the front line and command armies must include consideration of the female Haitian soldiers of the revolution, Belair foremost among them. ⁠