“Crimes Against Humanity” & “An Open Letter to His Serene Majesty Léopold II” (1890)

George Washington Williams—writer, lawyer, politician, soldier, journalist, and the first African American elected to the Ohio General Assembly—published "An Open Letter to His Serene Majesty Léopold II" in 1890 after he visited the Congo, then a Belgian colony under Léopold II. This visit exposed him to the brutal treatment the Congolese endured from their Belgian occupiers. His letter, which openly condemned the ill-treatment of the Congolese and coined the term "crimes against humanity," was published in newspapers worldwide, bringing international attention to the issue of imperialism.


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