The event started with three local members of the KKK-like Knights of the White Camelia beating teacher and newspaper editor Emerson Bentley — while he was teaching class — because he had promoted voter registration and education for all.
After some African Americans came to his rescue, armed white mobs roamed the countryside in a murderous rampage, killing more than 150 people, mostly African Americans.
These violent acts became known as the Opelousas Massacre.
Learn more from BlackPast.org and from The Deadliest Massacre in Reconstruction-Era Louisiana Happened 150 Years Ago in the Smithsonian Magazine.
Find lessons on the history of the fight for voting rights and on Reconstruction below.