Before the Civil War, free people of color made up a higher proportion of the population in New Orleans than anywhere else in the United States.
At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, free black residents made up about 20 percent of the city’s population, largely because French and Spanish officials had allowed enslaved people to purchase their freedom.
In the Free People of Color Museum (Le Musée de f.p.c.), the history is told through rooms hung salon-style with documents, paintings and photographs that shed light on the French and Spanish colonial eras and enslavement, the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The museum’s tours, which are by appointment only, are led by one of about a dozen docents, almost all of whom have roots within the city’s community of free people of color.
Excerpts from the New York Times, "Descendants Tell Stories of Free People of Color," March 12, 2019.