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The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike

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Fear, rumor and white supremacist ideals clashed with an unprecedented labor action spawned an epic tragedy. On November 23, 1887, white vigilantes gunned down unarmed black laborers and their families due to strikes on Louisiana sugar cane plantations. A future member of the U.S. House of Representatives was among the leaders of a mob that routed black men from houses and Fear, rumor and white supremacist ideals clashed with an unprecedented labor action spawned an epic tragedy. On November 23, 1887, white vigilantes gunned down unarmed black laborers and their families due to strikes on Louisiana sugar cane plantations. A future member of the U.S. House of Representatives was among the leaders of a mob that routed black men from houses and forced them to a stretch of railroad track, ordering them to run for their lives before gunning them down. According to a witness, the guns firing in the black neighborhoods sounded like a battle. Author and award-winning reporter John DeSantis uses correspondence, interviews and federal records to detail this harrowing true story.


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Fear, rumor and white supremacist ideals clashed with an unprecedented labor action spawned an epic tragedy. On November 23, 1887, white vigilantes gunned down unarmed black laborers and their families due to strikes on Louisiana sugar cane plantations. A future member of the U.S. House of Representatives was among the leaders of a mob that routed black men from houses and Fear, rumor and white supremacist ideals clashed with an unprecedented labor action spawned an epic tragedy. On November 23, 1887, white vigilantes gunned down unarmed black laborers and their families due to strikes on Louisiana sugar cane plantations. A future member of the U.S. House of Representatives was among the leaders of a mob that routed black men from houses and forced them to a stretch of railroad track, ordering them to run for their lives before gunning them down. According to a witness, the guns firing in the black neighborhoods sounded like a battle. Author and award-winning reporter John DeSantis uses correspondence, interviews and federal records to detail this harrowing true story.

30 review for The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    For me, it was a bit too brief. It's very straightforward and could have used a little more depth or expansion on the context, although I know the written records of the massacre are scant. As a Houma native, I can easily visualize the places the author mentions and have prior knowledge to some of the people he references. However, for a reader not from the area or unfamiliar with this period of history, I can imagine this might be a little confusing or challenging to read. On the other hand, I For me, it was a bit too brief. It's very straightforward and could have used a little more depth or expansion on the context, although I know the written records of the massacre are scant. As a Houma native, I can easily visualize the places the author mentions and have prior knowledge to some of the people he references. However, for a reader not from the area or unfamiliar with this period of history, I can imagine this might be a little confusing or challenging to read. On the other hand, I imagine most of the people interested in reading this book are from the area. 5 stars for bringing to light a little known (or unknown) tragedy. I just wanted a bit more from the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I really enjoyed this slim volume on what was (until John DeSantis’ book) was mostly hidden Louisiana history. While the official death toll from the November 23, 1887, Massacre of striking black sugar cane workers is eight, DeSantis believes the actual number is between 30 and 60. A key find was the pension application for a black Union Army veteran who grew up in Thibodaux. Jack Conrad’s son Grant was among those killed in the Massacre. Jack Conrad was wounded by several shots but survived. He I really enjoyed this slim volume on what was (until John DeSantis’ book) was mostly hidden Louisiana history. While the official death toll from the November 23, 1887, Massacre of striking black sugar cane workers is eight, DeSantis believes the actual number is between 30 and 60. A key find was the pension application for a black Union Army veteran who grew up in Thibodaux. Jack Conrad’s son Grant was among those killed in the Massacre. Jack Conrad was wounded by several shots but survived. He decided to move to New Orleans and applied for his pension. In the application he detailed the events of the Massacre and included hundreds of pages of eye-witness accounts that provided crucial information. DeSantis, who works as a reporter in Houma, LA, is now working to identify the mass grave site where the bodies of the victims of the murderous rampage were dumped. Excellent book. Essential Louisiana history!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  4. 5 out of 5

    Percy Day

  5. 4 out of 5

    Viral

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mac

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    Jeri Thompson

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    Blake Bourgeois

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marla

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    Colin

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ray Legendre

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    Tommy Hayne

  13. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alice

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    Brenda

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    Suse

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julia

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    Julie L

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    Maureen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Denise

  21. 5 out of 5

    Skye

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    Trish Pleasant

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel LeCompte

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Greene

  26. 5 out of 5

    Roxie Lacey

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary B Bodin

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    Terry Authement

  29. 4 out of 5

    Skye

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hinton

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