In 1887, African-American cane workers in Louisiana attempted to organize. On November 23, a mass shooting at the hands of ex-confederate soldiers, prominent white citizens and racist militia groups left approximately 60 of those strikers dead. Bodies were dumped in unmarked graves while the white press cheered a victory against a fledgling black union.
Before the killing of these men, it is documented that a white vigilante screamed “Run for your lives,” and then began shooting. Black farm workers in the South wouldn’t have the opportunity to unionize for generations. It was one of the bloodiest days in United States labor history, there is no historic marker for the Thibodaux Massacre.
This work retraces the locations touching that day, while paying homage to labor and organizing. LED-backed archival imagery courtesy the Library of Congress.
Oxford American: Persons Unknown
The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike. By John DeSantis
Zinne Education Project: Thibodaux Massacre