Civil War Era Poems by Creoles of Color

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NEW ORLEANS—Clint Bruce is a historian, and literary researcher with a specialty in French writing. Along with The Historic New Orleans Collection and Loyola University Sociologist Dr. Angel Adams Parham, Clint Bruce published a book of poetry written by free people of color around the time of the civil war. The book is entitled: Afro-Creole Poetry in French from Louisiana’s Radical Civil War-Era Newspapers.

In the final battles of the civil war, the end of slavery was upon the country, along with a budding new social order. Louisiana’s reconstruction epoch was different and Clint Says, “Reconstruction begins earlier than other places in the South because of the Union Incursion of New Orleans in the spring of 1862. Free people of color had to find their place in the new society. The activists quickly realized that while before the war, the may have had an intermediate status, they were now going to have to choose sides. The main thrust of the poems in the book is projecting a vision for a post slavery society and imagining what it is like to be black in a new Louisiana and a new America.”

During this time in history, there were newspapers that were owned by creoles of color. These newspapers published essays and poems about the themes of the time, which included equality between whites and blacks.

It was in newspapers that Clint Bruce compiled and translated 80 poems. These poems covered many topics including love, politics and racial identity.

Clint Bruce hopes that readers of the book will glean the import role that creoles had in the civil rights movement and also a fuller picture of the legacy of black writers in the United States. “The creole contribution to the larger struggle for civil rights in America needs fuller recognition. Creoles from the mid 19th century were at the foreground of the struggle,” says Clint Bruce.

To attend the virtual symposium at The Historic New Orleans Collection, click here.

To purchase Afro-Creole Poetry, click here.

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