From New Orleans in 1866
In the year 1866, I felt lucky to be chosen to attend the Republican Convention
in New Orleans. Looking back, I might not have been so lucky. I was an African-
American man who fought during the Civil War. So, I was asked to joined about
200 of my comrades plus 25 white delegates at the constitutional convention.
We wanted to secure voting rights and other civil liberties for former slaves in
the South. We were doing our work when a mob of Confederate veterans
attacked the meeting. Apparently, they were afraid of losing their political
power. They fired into the packed convention hall. I took cover immediately
and tried to reach safety until help could reach us. After a few terrifying
moments of dodging bullets, it became clear to me that no help would come.
Later, I found out that the local police were actually involved in planning the
riot. Federal troops were stationed nearby, but the officers were given the
incorrect hours of the meeting. They did not arrive in time to stop the
slaughter. One of my friends raised a white flag as I made my way out of the
hall. But he was shot to death. I, myself, took a bullet in my shoulder. That day,
37 men were killed and I became one of the 100 injured. Before that day, I
considered myself at peace, lucky to have survived the war. Now, I realize that
all the battles still haven’t been won.
Back to Timepost