Fighting for Inclusion: Blacks’ Continual Struggle for Citizenship Rights

Raphael Cassimere (University of New Orleans)

Published: Apr 30, 2018

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The fight for civil rights has been continuous throughout New Orleans’ history. Black New Orleanians have long struggled for the same basic rights and opportunities that most whites take for granted. This protest tradition continued from one generation to another, although at times intense opposition caused it to seem dormant. Generally, periods of activism were followed by lulls as the mood alternated between optimism and despair. This brief examines the array of actions taken by black New Orleanians to achieve equal rights, including lawsuits, organizing, voting, and building broad-based coalitions. All of these tactics are being used today as African Americans in New Orleans continue the struggle for full inclusion and equal rights.

Introduction

Black New Orleanians have long struggled for the same basic rights and opportunities that most whites take for granted. Initially, the fight for civil rights was led by free blacks who fought only for their own inclusion, not for their enslaved brethren.1 These free people of color sought equality in a society that defined freedom based on race: whites were free, blacks were slaves. Indeed, the free blacks’ very existence was an anomaly, and this contradiction became keener each year as they lived as uninvited guests in their own community during the decades before the Civil War.

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Citations and sources can be found in the PDF copy of the report.

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