New Trail Honors 1811 Slave Revolt in St. John Parish

Data News Weekly Staff Edited Report

The State of Louisiana has a long-storied history in the fight for freedom for African Americans. Recently, a historic trail was unveiled that pays homage to the largest slave revolts in American History.

Leaders from the River Parishes and the region’s tourist commission commemorated the 1811 Slave Revolt by dedicating a new 10-mile trail. It begins where the revolt began, at the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House in Laplace.

The trail ends at the Destrehan Plantation, where trials were held after the rebellion was put down. Back then, the 500 or so people who revolted were called slaves, but Rita Perrilloux described them as freedom fighters.

“We are not the descendants of slaves. We are the descendants of people who were enslaved. Are you hearing me? We are not the descendants of slaves, we are the descendants of people who were enslaved and have fought for their freedom from 1811 until today,” said Perrilloux, the Historic Riverland’s Director.

On February 5, 2020, she and leaders from the River Parishes and the region’s tourist commission commemorated the 1811 Slave Revolt.

“Freedom or death? If you were in bondage and you had to go through what they went through, that’s a viable choice,” said Perrilloux.

On the same soil where African Americans had no freedom two hundred years ago, a Black member of Louisiana’s River Parishes Tourist Commission spoke of the economic and educational value of visiting plantations.

Tourism officials point out that during the time of the revolt, the River Parishes were home to millionaires. It was arguably one of the wealthiest times for Louisiana, but because of slavery, it was also one of the darkest chapters of America.

“We are not the descendants of slaves. We are the descendants of people who were enslaved. Are you hearing me? We are not the descendants of slaves, we are the descendants of people who were enslaved and have fought for their freedom from 1811 until today,” said Perrilloux, the Historic Riverland’s Director.

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