Louisiana African American Heritage Trail (French: Sentier de l'héritage afro-américain de la Louisiane) is a cultural heritage trail with 26 sites designated in 2008 by the state of Louisiana, from New Orleans along the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge and Shreveport, with sites in small towns and plantations also included. In New Orleans several sites are within a walking area. Auto travel is required to reach sites outside the city.
A variety of African American museums devoted to art, history and culture are on the "trail", as is the Cane River Creole National Park, and the first two churches founded by and for free people of color. The trail includes two extensive plantation complexes with surviving quarters used by people who lived and worked at the plantations until 1930 in one case, and into the 1960s at the other. Two historically black universities are also on the trail.
The trail's chief state promoter has been Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, who saw its designation as a way to highlight the many contributions of African Americans to the culture of Louisiana and the United States.
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“The trail of the serpent reaches into all the lucrative professions and practices of man. Each has its own wrongs. Each finds a tender and very intelligent conscience a disqualification for success. Each requires of the practitioner a certain shutting of the eyes, a certain dapperness and compliance, an acceptance of customs, a sequestration from the sentiments of generosity and love, a compromise of private opinion and lofty integrity.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“It seems to me that upbringings have themes. The parents set the theme, either explicitly or implicitly, and the children pick it up, sometimes accurately and sometimes not so accurately.... The theme may be Our family has a distinguished heritage that you must live up to or No matter what happens, we are fortunate to be together in this lovely corner of the earth or We have worked hard so that you can have the opportunities we didnt have.”
—Calvin Trillin (20th century)
“I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
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Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of dark
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—Walt Whitman (18191892)
“Ive never been afraid to step out and to reach out and to move out in order to make things happen.”
—Victoria Gray, African American civil rights activist. As quoted in This Little Light of Mine, ch. 3, by Hay Mills (1993)
“... though it is by no means requisite that the American women should emulate the men in the pursuit of the whale, the felling of the forest, or the shooting of wild turkeys, they might, with advantage, be taught in early youth to excel in the race, to hit a mark, to swim, and in short to use every exercise which could impart vigor to their frames and independence to their minds.”
—Frances Wright (17951852)