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The American South is rife with untold stories of civil unrest and racial violence. This is in large part owing to the Southern economy being built on slavery, quite literally on the backs of the enslaved laborers forced into the plantation system. Coming on the heels of emancipation then, plantation owners were required by law to begin paying the formerly enslaved. But they were still being exploited with low wages and undesirable living conditions. What happened when these Black workers fought back?
In November of 1887, sugar cane laborers in Lafourche Parish outside of New Orleans launched an unprecedented labor strike, provoking violent backlash from white supremacists. A future member of the U.S. House of Representatives was amongst the mob of vigilantes who forced these unarmed Black men and their families to run for their lives before gunning them down. Neighborhood witnesses would later say the clash sounded like a colossal battle.
Through interviews, correspondence, and federal records, author and award-winning journalist John DeSantis brings to light the courageous resistance of the sugar cane laborers in the telling of this epic tragedy.