Timeline against racist imagery of Sinterklaas celebration in the Netherlands (in progress)

1850      Zwarte Piet is introduced as Sinterklaas’ servant in a children’s book by schoolteacher Jan Schenkman

1865     The Dutch government abolishes slavery

1934     The first official Sinterklaas arrival by boat includes 6 black Surinamese sailors playing Zwarte Piet

1957     In Indonesia, former colonized Indonesians ban the Sinterklaas celebration for it depicting the previous colonial hierarchy

1968    M.C.Grünbauer suggests a Witte Pieten-plan, criticizing the Sinterklaas celebration as irresponsible as it taught to associate the then scary Zwarte Pieten with black people

1970    Small initiatives such as celebrations with a black Sinterklaas and white Pieten

1975     Independent Suriname abolishes the Sinterklaas celebration

1981     Solidariteits Beweging Suriname urges to celebrate Sinterklaas without Zwarte Piet

1986    Beweging Surinaams Links creates a brochure entitled “Sinterklaas is a racist”

1988    Rahina Hassankhan writes a book explaining the consequences of Zwarte Piet for black people’s notion of being different around Sinterklaas time

Antiracism and discrimination team introduces anti-discrimination code at various public schools, abolishing Zwarte Piet

1993     Sinterklaas celebration contains multi-colored Pieten, but Zwarte Piet is changed to black the following year

1994 – 1998   Zwarte Piet = zwarte verdriet organized yearly demonstrations, participated in public debates, published a book and petitioned against Zwarte Piet at schools

1999     The management of education in Amsterdam Southeast created a Sint Nicholas code, a protocol to suggest a change of non-racist role division

2000     Organiseer Pressie Omhoog threatens to disrupt the Sinterklaas celebration, leading several schools to abolish Zwarte Piet

2001     Recognition of transatlantic slavery as a crime against humanity at the UN Conference in Durban

2003    Dutch department of Global Afrikan Congress offered a petition to Members of Parliament urging them to recognize the racist elements of the Sinterklaas celebration

2006    Public broadcaster NPS introduced “rainbow Pieten” during the national arrival, pressured by predominantly racist reactions, Zwarte Piet is changed back to black the following year

2007    Art.1, the national association against discrimination acknowledges the celebration to consist of racist elements and calls for “a better Piet”

2008    A protest against Zwarte Piet, part of an art exhibition at the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven was cancelled due to threats, but resulted in a documentary

Felix de Rooy stages a critical theatre show about Zwarte Piet at the Bijlmer Park Theatre in Amsterdam

2010   Organisation Soapbox organizes a debate on Zwarte Piet

2011    Artist Quinsy Gario starts his t-shirt campain “Zwarte Piet is racisme” and is, together with friend Kno’ledge Cesare violently arrested during the national arrival. It leads to various events, interviews and international outcries against the Sinterklaas celebration

2012   Dutch community in London is invited to be part of the tradition of resistance and to create an inclusive Sinterklaas celebration


Based on this timeline, we created flyers for the protest against the use of blackface in the Sinterklaas celebration in London taking place on December 2012. Download the flyer here: 65yrs of resistance