The Strange Case of Susie Guillory Phipps
In 1977, Susie Guillory Phipps, a white Louisiana woman, applied for a birth certificate to discover that the state Bureau of Vital Statistics had her down as ”colored.” This made her upset and outraged to such claims, so she took the matter to court in 1982. The state traced her genealogy back 222 years, to a Black woman named Margarita, Mrs. Phipps’ great-great-great-great grandmother. Her great-great-great-great grandfather was a white planter named John Gregoire Guillory according to the New York Times reported in 1982.
Louisiana law since 1970 has held that if a person had 1/32 of ”Negro blood,” the person was considered Black. Before 1970 ”a trace” of Negro ancestry made a person Black in the eyes of the state. This rule came to backfire on white people in the end.
Legacy of the Codes
The Black Codes were intended to regulate and dominate Black people, but fortunately enough the laws failed. From their inception to their demise, the insistence on creating a segregated society turned Louisiana into one of the most diverse states in the U.S., where French, Native American, African, and Caribbean culture all mixed into something new and celebrated.