The Racial Diversity of Our Creole People
Creole People (creoles of color) are a blend of the "New World," People,
with heavy roots in the Caribbean area...Records from ship logs, Census reports,
birth and death records, and many other sources which date back to 1519 A.D.
show these Creoles or people of color to have co-existed with the Native peoples
in these areas.
The origins of Creole "People of color"
also known as "Gens de Couleur" date back to the 15th Century, Senegal
Africa and even before. The word Creole, (people of color) does not denote African,
but rather a blend of New World People who have roots going back to West Africa
and Europe (by definition ..... Afro-European) The name was created by people
of African descent born in the New World to differentiate them from people born
who possessed a culture apart from theirs.
The Brazilian people first coined the expression
in the early 16th century. The Spanish adopted the word "Creole" to
denote their own, who were born in the New World and the French, later copied
this word form the Spanish. From this successive use of the word it somehow
came to denote Creole people from Louisiana.
The descendants of the White French
aristocracy who settled New Orleans also adopted this word "Creole."
However in Louisiana, since it was already in use by frenchmen of European extraction
it became known to refer to white French men as well as people of color of New
Further more! As Creole History goes, these Creoles living in Louisiana inter-mixed
with those free people of color who thus became the offsprings of these people.
Due to the Spanish and French Codes during this period, marriages between the
2 groups were not allowed, although, many times it happened.
Thus the separation!
Many Creoles of color, as a matter of record can trace their ancestry to these
original people. The Creole (people of color) living in Louisiana during the
time, inter-mixed with Black slaves, Indian and Acadian people who were already
here or who had settled in Louisiana.
Antoine Meffre Rouzan, 1833
Portrait by Eugene Deveria
From the Collections of the Louisiana State Museum
(Monsieur Rousan, a Creole of Color)
Spanish garrisons that were located in various parts of Louisiana during the
Spanish occupation, along with other subgroups like the Redbones, Germans, Italians,
and other ethnics that made up the rural population of Louisiana. All came together
to form this melting pot of ethnic cultures in which the Creole shared.
After Napoleon's Defeat in Haiti, many white people and free people of color
fled the island for refugee in Louisiana, Cuba, and the tiny Caribbean islands.
This intermixing of races and cultures produced what we now know today in Louisiana
as the offspring of Genes de Colour/ Creoles along with the white French Creoles.
They have contributed in every way to the development of Louisiana and American
society. Not only did they participate in all major wars for the preservation
of American Independence (from the war of independence to the civil war) but
without the Louisiana purchases, (land occupied by these people) there would
be no America as we see it today!
After the American take over of the Louisiana
territory, "Creoles of color" were then stripped of their rights,
property, and basic freedom, and were forcefully subjugated into slavery and
third class citizen status! Some fled to Mexico and the Caribbean areas rather
than subjugate themselves. But most of these people of color stayed on and managed
to survive throughout this period, contributing much to the development of Louisiana.
As time has gone by, the government and decision makers of Louisiana continue
to equate "Creoles" as second-class citizens. Refusing to acknowledge
their cultural presence and their contributions to the state of Louisiana.