Red River Reconstruction
The Freedman's Bureau, the first social service and civil rights enforcement agency in the United States, proved vital to the success of freedom - but Southerners in Congress quickly de-funded and removed it. In Natchitoches, the office for the bureau was located at the corner of Touline and Jefferson streets (Henry Camie Research Center, Northwestern Louisiana State University)
Violence in the Valley
Book a presentation
Between 1866 and 1930, the New South along the Red River witnessed a record number of racist acts of brutalization against African Americans by white supremacists.
After the Civil War, the people who had been enslaved didn't suddenly enjoy full freedom. Most people who have power - and especially people who did not earn it but simply inherited it - do not give up their advantages easily. In the United States, money equals might; in the American South, that wealth was counted in land, enslaved people, and white racism. American capitalism was founded on cruelty, and freedom after the Civil War didn't change that. What made the incredible cruelty in the years between 1866 and 1960 in the Red River Valley so much more noticeable than before the Civil War was that after 1866, violence became a public act reported in the newspapers rather than an undocumented act in the confines of plantations.
The following articles document several instances of post-Civil War violence that whites inflicted on blacks solely because of their race. Almost exclusively, prominent white men (i.e., town leaders, bankers, planters, doctors, etc) accused black men of raping white women and children, or murdering their employers/debtors. These accusations were often not met in a court of law. Instead, they resulted in brutal public, extra-legal executions. The white men in the lynching mobs were easily recognizable to their fellow citizens, and newspapers explained their crimes in great detail. However, NOT ONE of the white men ever faced criminal charges after carrying out heinous acts that included genital and bodily mutilation and torture. The examples of racial violence in the Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction periods along the Red River Valley listed here are not an exhaustive list. Violent acts were so commonplace in this period that most newspapers only mentioned them in passing, or barely at all; often, the information comes from sources outside of publications in the Red River Valley. I will be adding more histories as time and research allow.