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Louisiana Slave Memorial

Allées Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

This is the name of the slave memorial dedicated to 107, 000 people enslaved in Louisiana and documented in the “Louisiana Slave Database” built by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall. The latter was born 27 June 1929 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Ethel and Herman Lazard Midlo, a civil rights and labor attorney. Gwen and her husband, Harry Haywood Hall, were among the founders of the Provisional Organizing Committee for a Communist Party, which was formed in New York in August 1958. Haywood was a central figure in the Communist Party in the US and Soviet Union and published the influential book Negro Liberation in 1948. As for Gwen, when she was teaching at Elizabeth City State College in North Carolina in 1965, she encouraged black students to organize armed resistance against the KKK and to oppose the US military involvement in Vietnam. This and other actions in the struggle against racism, oppression, and injustice led to an FBI investigation and to her being blacklisted and fired from her teaching job. In 2012, she honored the memory of her husband with the publication of “A Black Communist in the Freedom Struggle: The Life of Harry Haywood [University of Minnesota Press, 2012].

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall is also the mentor of many generations of historians of slavery. She is highly regarded for her public outreach and award winning scholarship among historians of Africa, Europe, the United States and the Caribbean. She is the author of Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links [University of North Carolina Press, 2005], Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century [Louisiana State University Press, 1992], and Social Control in Slave Plantation Societies: A Comparison of St. Domingue and Cuba [Johns Hopkins Press, 1971]. Her database “Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820,” which she assembled and which is the foundation of much of her scholarship, has long been free and available on the Internet.