Honoring Victims of a Strike by Black Plantation Workers

Labor News

In this November 13, 2016 photo provided by John DeSantis, author of "The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike" poses with Sylvester Jackson, right, great-grandson of massacre survivor Jack Conrad, at the Nicholls State University archives in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Jackson and his family had not known about their relationship to Conrad or the massacre until DeSantis got in touch with them as part of research for the book. (James Loiselle/Courtesy of John DeSantis via AP)

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by Janet Mcconnaughey on May 11, 2017.

Descendants of victims of a racial massacre 130 years ago in south Louisiana and descendants of Confederate and plantation families are working together to honor those victims and possibly find their remains.

Members of white mobs went door to door for more than two hours, shooting unarmed blacks, on November 23, 1887. The violence ended a month-long strike by sugar plantation field hands, including many former slaves as well as some whites. Though records are sketchy, they indicate that 30 to 60 people died in the Thibodaux (TIB-uh-doh) Massacre, said John DeSantis, whose book about the incident was published late last year.

Local tradition holds that there’s a mass grave on the grounds of what’s now a black American Legion chapter .

DeSantis and others created the Louisiana 1887 Memorial Committee to raise money for an archaeological survey to learn if that’s true — and, if it is, have any remains exhumed, investigated, and buried in consecrated ground. …

SF Chronicle 5/11

About Jeffrey Burman 2863 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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