Louisiana’s African-American Heritage Trail

Louisiana African-American Heritage Trail
A self-guided tour

Sitting centuries past its prime beneath a canopy of oak trees, the 1700’s Whitney Plantation is promoted as the most complete plantation in the south. Just 35 miles northwest of New Orleans in St. John the Baptist Parish, this once-working farm boasts a Creole and Greek Revival-style mansion, an overseer’s house, a blacksmith shop and the oldest kitchen in Louisiana.

There are nearly a dozen shacks behind the big house that tell the legacy of the 254 slaves that once inhabited one of Louisiana’s largest sugar cane plantations. The experience has been compared to visiting a former death camp run by the Germans. But in post-Katrina Louisiana, the recently started African-American Heritage Trail offers a triumphant immersion into Louisiana’s rich black history and culture.

If you can hang in there, there’s a stark realism to this traveling history lesson. You’ll experience a lesson in front of the home of Homer Plessy who refused to move to the “whites only” section of a rail car, which led to the landmark Supreme Court case; you’ll also discover Madame C. J. Walker, the hair-care entrepreneur from Delta who pulled herself out of poverty to become the nation’s first black female millionaire.

In the city of New Orleans, the nation’s oldest surviving black community still resides in Faubourg Treme, which was populated by free people of color throughout the 19th century. It still bears a resemblance to a well-to-do Caribbean community complete with pastel-colored Creole and shotgun-style cottages that line narrow shaded streets.

In Treme, quadroon balls, which were private soirees, were held in which wealthy Creole families presented their daughters to white suitors for long-term relationships.

As you travel north on Hwy. 1 towards Natchitoches, the likes of Melrose Plantation and the love story of Marie-Therese abound. Marie-Therese was raised as a slave in the household of a Louisiana military commander and later sold to Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer, a French merchant. The two fell in love and she eventually bore 10 children. She and her children ultimately gained their freedom and became wealthy landowners in their own right.

A day trip from Shreveport to Grambling State University emerges one into the 1870’s enclave of independent African-American property owners that subsequently became the first all-black municipality in Louisiana.

Nearby, the Hermoine Plantation House in Tallulah is the remaining of about 70 plantation homes before the civil war in Madison Parish. Hermoine was spared destruction in the war as it served as a hospital for federal troops during the Civil War. Madame C.J. Walker’s personal correspondence, photos, news articles and samples of her products are on display. Ironically enough, one of Ms. Walker’s products was a tanning cream for whites. To sell her line, she developed an elaborate national marketing system that employed thousands of African-American women. This was the model of the same concept later used by Mary Kay cosmetics.

It seems that the African-American Heritage Trail truly is a museum unto itself.

For maps and an audiotape detailing the trail, contact: 888-46-VISIT


~ by Voltima on November 14, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Sell with WP

News, Tips, & Tricks for Selling Online with WordPress


The WPMU DEV Blog provides tutorials, tips, resources and reviews to help out any WordPress user


perception is reality

%d bloggers like this: