Montreal: Arbour & Dupont, 1911. 196pp plus eight portraits [including frontis portrait]. Original printed wrappers [darkened at the spine, lightly spotted at the corners]. Very Good.
This rare, landmark book is a history of and tribute to New Orleans Free Negroes, "the first such book written in French by a member of the Louisiana Creoles of Color" [wikipedia]. It "celebrates the work of Louisiana people of color in art, literature, music, invention, philanthropy, and other fields of endeavor" [online site African American Registry].
An African American civic leader, author and scholar, Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes was born in 1849 in New Orleans, where his Haitian-born father and Cuban-born mother had immigrated. He "spent much of his professional life as a clerk with the U.S. Customs Service, but his contribution to history lies in his efforts to promote the achievements of his Blacks and to challenge the legality of Jim Crow laws. On September 5, 1891, he helped to organize the Comite des Citoyens, which backed Homer Plessy's unsuccessful attempt to challenge segregation in public transportation. Desdunes was a staunch opponent of segregation and was the primary editorial contributor to The Crusader, New Orleans' weekly black newspaper, and held the meetings of the Comite des Citoyens at the newspaper's offices." [id.]
"Black pride and French pride flow in his recounting of these biographies. Gifted, but deprived of higher education, Rodolphe Desdunes not only provides data unobtainable elsewhere but also serves as a symbol of the people whom he memorialized." [online site of Frenchcreoles].
Blockson 3651. OCLC 868971333 [2- Montreal U, Laval U] as of July 2020. Item #36931