African Americans in Louisiana
Total population
1.501 million[1] (2020)
Regions with significant populations
Orleans Parish and rural parishes along the Mississippi River Delta[2]
Southern American English, African American Vernacular English, Louisiana Creole, Louisiana French, New Orleans English, Cajun English, African languages
Related ethnic groups
Louisiana Creole people, Cajuns, Redbones, Creoles of color
Arna Bontemps African American Museum in Alexandria

African Americans in Louisiana or Black Louisianians are residents of the U.S. state of Louisiana who are of African ancestry; those native to the state since colonial times descend from the many African slaves working on indigo and sugarcane plantations under French colonial rule.[4]

Within the U.S., Louisiana has the fifth largest overall African American population. Louisiana has the second largest percentage of African Americans in the country, only behind Mississippi.[5] As of the 2020 U.S. census, Black Louisianians of African heritage were 32.8% of the state's population.[6]


Runaway slave ad in Louisiana, 1851

Main articles: History of slavery in Louisiana and History of Louisiana

The first enslaved people from Africa arrived in Louisiana in 1719 on the Aurore slave ship from Whydah, only a year after the founding of New Orleans.[7] Twenty-three slave ships brought black slaves to Louisiana in French Louisiana alone, almost all embarking prior to 1730.[8] Between 1723 and 1769, most African slaves imported to Louisiana were from modern-day Senegal, Mali, Congo, and Benin and many thousands being imported to Louisiana from there.[9][10][11] A large number of the imported slaves from the Senegambia region were members of the Wolof and Bambara ethnic groups. Saint-Louis and Goree Island were sites where a great number of slaves destined for Louisiana departed from Africa.[12] Very few slaves from the Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast were imported in Louisiana except the Mina who were among the most frequent ethnicities in this country. They belong to the Ewe group and their traditional domain is rather centered on the Mono River, encompassing eastern Ghana, the territory of modern Togo, and the west of modern Benin. It is more likely that most of the Mina transported to Louisiana were shipped from the Bight of Benin also known as the Slave Coast.[10] During the Spanish control of Louisiana, between 1770 and 1803, most of the slaves still came from the Congo and the Senegambia region, but they imported also more slaves from modern-day Benin.[13] Many slaves imported during this period were members of the Nago people, a Yoruba subgroup.[14]

The slaves brought with them their cultural practices, languages, and religious beliefs rooted in spirit and ancestor worship, which were key elements of Louisiana Voodoo.[13] In addition, in the late nineteenth century, many Afro-Haitians also migrated to Louisiana, contributing to the Voodoo tradition of the state.

During the American period (1804–1820), almost half of the African slaves came from the Congo.[9][15]

Before the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), African Americans comprised the majority of the population in the state, with most being enslaved and working as laborers on sugar cane and cotton plantations.[16]

African Americans left Louisiana by the tens of thousands during the Great Migration in the first half of the 20th century, seeking work and political opportunities elsewhere. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, African Americans were 31.2% of the state's population.[17]

Of all deaths from COVID-19 in 2020, African Americans in Louisiana died in greater numbers than any other racial group.[18]

Louisiana Creoles in Louisiana are of French, Spanish, Native American, and African American ancestry.[19] Creoles of color are Creoles with black ancestry who assimilated into Black culture. There is also an Afro-Gypsy community in Louisiana developed as a consequence of interracial marriage between freed African Americans and enslaved Roma.[20]

Historically black colleges and universities in Louisiana

There are six historically black colleges (HBCU) established in Louisiana. The Southern University System is the country's first and only HBCU college system.[21]


See also: Culture of Louisiana and Music of Louisiana

African Americans have contributed to Louisiana's culture, music, and cuisine. African slaves have influenced New Orleans dishes such as gumbo.[22] African slaves also brought Louisiana Voodoo to the state.[23] African Americans have influenced the music of Louisiana and helped develop jazz, blues, hip hop, R&B, Zydeco, and Bounce music in the state.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Louisiana - Place Explorer - Data Commons".
  2. ^ Parent, Wayne (September 1, 2006). Inside the Carnival: Unmasking Louisiana Politics. LSU Press. ISBN 9780807131985 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Religious Landscape Study".
  4. ^ "Slavery in French Colonial Louisiana". 64 Parishes.
  5. ^ Voting Rights Act: Evidence of Continued Need, Volume II, Serial No. 109-103, March 8, 2006, 109-2 Hearing, *. 2006. p. 1600.
  6. ^ U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Louisiana
  7. ^ Africans in colonial Louisiana: the development of Afro-Creole culture in the eighteenth century. OCLC 25131336 – via
  8. ^ "The Arrival Of The First Africans In Louisiana". 7 May 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Louisiana: most African diversity within the United States?". Tracing African Roots (in Dutch). 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  10. ^ a b "The Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast".
  11. ^ "The Slave Coast and the Bight of Biafra".
  12. ^ Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion, Volumen 2. Writing by Junius P. Rodriguez
  13. ^ a b Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo (1995). Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century. Louisiana State University Press. p. 58.
  14. ^ Kein, Sybil (August 1, 2000). Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana's Free People of Color. LSU Press. ISBN 9780807126011 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "The Louisiana Slave Database". Archived from the original on 2015-03-03. Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  16. ^ "Antebellum Louisiana: Agrarian Life". 23 January 2014.
  17. ^ "Louisiana QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". 2011. Archived from the original on January 19, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  18. ^ "African Americans in Louisiana Are Dying at an Alarming Rate During Pandemic".
  19. ^ Louisiana Creoles: Cultural Recovery and Mixed-Race Native American Identity. 2006.
  20. ^ Emerging Voices: Experiences of Underrepresented Asian Americans. 2008.
  21. ^ "What is the mission of an HBCU today?". 22 August 2017.
  22. ^ Gary, Megan. "From West Africa to Southwest Louisiana: The Origin of Gumbo, by Phebe A. Hayes". Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce. Glue Up. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  23. ^ Mythologies. p. 507.

Further reading