Africans started to fight the transatlantic slave trade as soon as it began. Their struggles were multifaceted and covered four continents over four centuries. Still, they have often been underestimated, overlooked, or forgotten. African resistance was reported in European sources only when it concerned attacks on slave ships and company barracoons, but acts of resistance also took place far from the coast and thus escaped the slavers’ attention. To discover them, oral history, archaeology, and autobiographies and biographies of African victims of the slave trade have to be probed. Taken together, these various sources offer a detailed image of the varied strategies Africans used to defend themselves from and mount attacks against the slave trade.
The Africans’ resistance continued in the Americas. They ran away, established maroon communities, used sabotage, conspired, and rose against those who held them in captivity. Freed people petitioned the authorities, led information campaigns, and worked actively to abolish the slave trade and slavery.
In Europe, black abolitionists launched or participated in civic movements to end the deportation and enslavement of Africans. They too delivered speeches, provided information, wrote newspaper articles and books.
Using violent as well as nonviolent means, Africans in Africa, the Americas, and Europe were constantly involved in the fight against the slave trade and slavery.