Race violence was all too common throughout American history. As I studied the history of my own parish, St. Bernard, I started to unravel a brutal massacre absent from almost any historical narrative. Congressional inquiries into the massacre paint an atrocity. At the time it was dubbed the St. Bernard Riot, but it really has no official name. What’s in a name, anyway? The term riot was provided by whites, whether in the newspapers or remaining government records. That term does not give it justice, and implies mass chaos must’ve ensued. It has been recognized and used by the very few who mention it, but I choose to label it by a much more appropriate term: The St. Bernard Massacre of 1868. It was not chaotic, but a deliberate, systematic slaughter of humans who were just liberated from their chains circa six years prior à la the Emancipation Proclamation. In order to understand the violence, we must understand the circumstances associated with it.
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