8 Facts About the History of the French Imposed Black Codes and Their Impact on Race In Louisiana

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Quadroon Balls

Under the Black codes in Louisiana, mixed-raced people, or mulattoes, were treated better than darker skinned Black people. This skin differentiation created a long-lasting division that ultimately damaged the Black community. Many white males found mixed-race women  desirable. In 1800s New Orleans, there were frequent Quadroon Balls that served as a meeting place for white men to pick and arrange relationships with mulatto women. When the man had made his choice, he met the woman and her mother to offer an arrangement, a placage, in which he agreed to maintain the woman in a certain style and provide for any children who might be born of the union, according to writer and historian Obiagele Lake.

 

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The Black Codes After 1865

After the Civil War, the condition of Black people was not any different. The codes in Louisiana were still influenced by the original codes in 1685. Southern states adopted laws that would still keep the white powers-that-be on top. Essentially, free Black people were unable to advance in society because of these codes. For example:

Section 4. Every Negro is required to be in the regular service of some white person, or former owner, who shall be held responsible for the conduct of said Negro. But said employer or former owner may permit said Negro to hire his own time by special permission in writing, which permission shall not extend over seven days at any one time.

Section 5.  No public meetings or congregations of Negroes shall be allowed within said parish after sunset; but such public meetings and congregations may be held between the hours of sunrise and sunset, by the special permission in writing of the captain of patrol, within whose beat such meetings shall take place.

Even though Black people were free, they did not have full protection under the law or the ability to express that freedom without white supervision.

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