The Thibodaux Massacre Left 60 African-Americans Dead and Spelled the End of Unionized Farm Labor in the South for Decades

“….The massacre helped keep unions out of the South at just the moment it was industrializing. Textile manufacturers were moving out of New England, chasing low wages. And after textile factories closed in the 20th century, auto, manufacturing, and energy companies opened in southern states in part for the non-union workforce….

….Southern black farm workers would not attempt to unionize again, until the 1930s when the Southern Tenant Farmers Union attracted both white and African American members. But it too was met by a violent racist backlash. The struggle for southern unions continued into the Civil Rights era. On the night before he was assassinated in Memphis, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech supporting striking sanitation workers. He urged his audience “to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. …You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”

Laurel Valley

Cabins like these in Laurel Valley are similar to those in the area at the time of the Thibodaux Massacre. (Stephen Saks Photography / Alamy Stock Photo)

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