Fatima ShaikApr 23, 2021
The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood
Historic New Orleans Collections 2021
Fatima Shaik's book Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood (Historic New Orleans Collections, 2021) tells the story of the Sociâetâe d'Economie et d'Assistance Mutuelle, a New Orleans mutual aid society founded by free men of color in 1836. The group was one of the most important multiethnic, intellectual communities in the US South: educators, world-traveling merchants, soldiers, tradesmen, and poets who rejected racism and colorism to fight for suffrage and education rights for all. The author drew on the meeting minutes of the Sociâetâe d'Economie as well as census and civil records, newspapers, and numerous archival sources to write a narrative stretching from the Haitian Revolution through the early jazz age.
Adam McNeil is a third year Ph.D. in History student at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.