This Day in History

Sept. 28, 1868: Opelousas Massacre

Time Periods: Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Democracy & Citizenship

On Sept. 28, 1868, one of the worst outbreaks of violence during Reconstruction took place in Opelousas, Louisiana.

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 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.