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Introduction Contexts: Free People of Color in the Americas, 1492-1830 Early Days: Colonial Louisiana, 1718-1803 Transition: Louisiana's Territorial Period, 1803-1812 Golden Age: The Early Antebellum Era, 1812-1830 Decline and Civil War, 1830-1865 Legacies: Louisiana's "Creoles of Color" after the Civil War For more than five hundred years, America has been a land where people have sought, if not always found, freedom.Those who were successful in their search have come to be seen as quintessential American heroes.Most heavily concentrated in New Orleans, many worked as artisans and professionals.Significant numbers were also found in Baton Rouge, St.The Roman Catholic faith, which, at least initially, discouraged the enslavement of anyone who had accepted Christianity, contributed to the relatively liberal attitude of the Spanish and Portuguese toward free people of color.In some ways, the French had a similar outlook, imagining a society where class was more important than race and in which everyone was entitled to fair treatment, provided they had been baptized into the Catholic Church.Those who remained, however, cooperated with other African Americans in the long struggle for civil rights.This project hopes to contribute to the rediscovery of these "forgotten" people and their role in the state's racial, political, economic, social, and cultural past.
Nor did their story lose its relevance once the abolition of slavery had rendered all Americans legally free.
Juan Garrido, a black conquistador, traveled with Ponce de Léon and Pánfilo de Narváez in what is now the United States and Mexico, while Juan Valiente, a free black man from Cádiz, helped lead the first Spanish expedition to Chile.
Estéban de Dorantes, a ("Arabized black"), saved the shipwrecked explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his men from certain death by posing as a shaman and persuading Native Americans to share their food.
Discrimination against freedmen, blacks who had never known slavery, and Creoles of Color in the post-bellum South led many of them to seek a better life elsewhere, where many of mixed-race heritage were able to "pass" in their new communities.
As a result of their exodus, southern black communities were deprived of talented leaders, businessmen, role models, and cultural brokers at the time when they were most needed.