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NAACP remembers the Opelousas massacre on 154th Anniversary

Posted at 11:39 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 16:52:25-04

The St. Martinville NAACP hosted a candlelight vigil in memory of those lost in the Opelousas Massacre that occurred in 1868.

An event is known as one of the bloodiest during the Reconstruction Era, having killed between 150 to 300 African Americans who sought the right to vote in St. Landry Parish.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022, marks it's 154th Anniversary of the horrific incident where hundreds of African Americans and dozens of whites were murdered all over the parish.

The vigil event compiled a historical overview of the massacre, spoken word, song, prayer, and candlelight.

“It happened right here in St. Landry Parish during the Reconstruction Era. When African Americans wanted to participate in democracy and own their own business and schools,” St. Landry NAACP Vice President, Rod Sias said.

Sias says certain groups like the Klu Klux Klan, the white citizen council, and the former confederates target those in support of reversing voter suppression laws.

“It’s important that we remember this incident because it’s a part of St. Landry's history, and Louisiana, and American history. And you can separate Louisiana history from African American history,” Sias said.

The founder of the rural African American museum, Wilkins Jones, explains why educating the public about this event is so important.

“It shows where you came from and what struggles you had in the past so you prevent the mistakes you made 150 years ago and move forward,” Jones said.

One local of 11 years, Cameron Richard, expresses how he thinks the massacre should be remembered today.

"They probably didn't want education for the blacks because the more you know, that's the more you can fight in the legal system. But as long as none of that is happening now in 2022 I think we should keep moving forward and start educating ourselves,” Richard said.

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