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.
John DeSantis is the senior staff writer at the Times of Houma, Louisiana. A product of New York City, his work has previously appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other publications. A journalist whose criminal justice background was attained at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, he has covered social justice and race relations extensively in New York, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina and California. 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. A recipient of numerous awards from the Louisiana Press Association, the Associated Press Managing Editors Association and other news media organizations, DeSantis resides in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike