Friday, June 18, 2010
FATHERS, SONS & HEROES
By Maureen Osborne
Sons of interracial relationships during the 1800s faced difficult challenges, much like today. Like their sisters of color, their futures were influenced by their parents. Some would be remembered throughout history while others would only live a short time only hinting at their greatness. Yet others would enhance the very institution their fathers freed them from.
Boys stayed with their mothers until they were old enough to work or be educated. Often fathers were the ones to make these decisions. Some were sent to the back country to work on their father’s estates of given land of their own. Many were sent to Europe; France in particular due to the “supposed” tolerance for different races. Any subsequent marriages and relationships resulted in families with children of different hues.
Dependent on their white fathers for their entry into freedom, these young men and others faced many challenges. Norbert Rillieux, who only now is receiving his proper due for his invention, could only watch while alive, as his ideas were stolen or ignored because he was not white. While I could not find the cause of his death, Julien Hudson’s early death leaves a large void in the artists of the time period, and Homer Plessy would be shocked to learn that even today, CNN carries a story about young black children choosing the drawing of a white child over that of a black one.
Historical research can often be frustrating and shocking. But it is never boring and often rewarding. As romance writers we have the unique opportunity to inform, educate and encourage. ♥
Book of interest:
CREOLE: THE HISTORY AND LEGACY OF LOUISIANA’S FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR edited by Sybil Kein, Louisiana State University Press.
Maureen Osborne continues to work on her historical romance that takes place at the conclusion of the Battle of New Orleans.