John DeSantis is the senior staff writer at The Times of Houma-Thibodaux. A product of New York City, his work has previously appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications. He is also a former city editor at the Thibodaux Daily Comet. His other books include For the Color of His Skin: The Murder of Yusuf Hawkins and the Trial of Bensonhurst and The New Untouchables: How America Sanctions Police Violence.
Noon to 12:45 p.m.
State Capitol Building, Senate Committee Room C
Past as Prelude: Racial Conflict and Violence
1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike
On November 23, 1887, white vigilantes gunned down unarmed black laborers and their families during a spree lasting more than two hours. The violence erupted due to strikes on Louisiana sugar cane plantations. Fear, rumor and white supremacist ideals clashed with an unprecedented labor action to create an epic tragedy. 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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