with historian Dr. Kim Butler

Episode 002

In a riveting conversation with African Diaspora historian Dr Kim Butler, commonalities between people of African descent are explored. Dr. Butler explains how the global dispersal of African people was not only the result of enslavement. It was also spawned by African industry, exploration and expansion. One commonality shared throughout the African Diaspora is the history of Maroon communities—those societies developed and sustained by self-emancipating people of African descent who refused to be enslaved. One of the greatest Maroon communities was Quilobos dos Palmares in Brazil. When we know and study what made Palmares a free and flourishing society for more than 90 years, we can gain insights about building autonomous communities today. Achievement leaves foot prints.

“When we are facing downturns, my knowledge of our history tells me we will make it through.”-Kim Butler


  • There are advantages to recognizing people of African descent throughout the world as one people.
  • A common feature throughout different places enslaved Africans found themselves was the development of Maroon communities, free communities established by self-emancipated people of African descent.
  • Palmares dos Quilombos, a great Maroon community in Brazil, flourished and developed into an astutely governed country of 11,000 self-emancipated Africans for 93 years.
  • Historical knowledge can greatly shape self-perception.
  • African Americans and others who comprise the African Diaspora have developed valuable cultural traditions.

Key Moments

[7:10] People of African descent, located in varied parts of the world, are in many ways different AND substantively, very much alike.

[9:40] Black people were dispersed throughout the world by varied means, including as a result of conquering, trading, exploring, and being enslaved.

[11:00] What are the advantages of recognizing African people as one people

[13:50] It is not common knowledge that enslaved Africans in Haiti fought for and secured their national freedom after defeating France.

[16:30] Acknowledging Maroon societies—those free communities of self-emancipated people of African descent—in the African Diaspora, with particular focus on Maroon communities in Brazil. Maroon communities in Brazil were called Quilombos.

[20:56] Palmares, the most celebrated Quilombo (Maroon community) in Brazil, flourished and developed into an astutely governed country of 11,000 self-emancipated Africans for 93 years.

[29:40] Acknowledging Zumbi, the great Palmares warrior leader who refused to comply with Portugal’s demand to stop giving access to growing numbers of self-emancipated Africans.

[39:00] Surinam, Palenque, and other Maroon communities in the African Diaspora

[46:10] The critical role of adults in shaping the achievement mindset that oriented Dr. Butler to achieve highly.

[49:40] What is the connection between history and Black self-perception?

[57: 12] Black history can inform strategies for achieving social justice.

ReferencesDr. Kim Butler, Associate Professor Rutgers UniversityWebsite: