Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes (1849-1928) was a civic leader and scholar. He spent much of his professional life as a clerk with the U.S. Customs Service, but his contribution to history lies in his efforts to promote the achievements of his race and to challenge the legality of Jim Crow laws.
He helped to organize the Comite des Citoyens, which backed Homer Plessy’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge segregation in public transportation. And his book Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire (Our People and Our History), published in 1911, celebrates the work of Louisiana people of color in art, literature, music, invention, philanthropy and other fields of endeavor.
Photographer unknown, Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire, R.L. Desdunes, 1911, City Archives & Special Collections, New Orleans Public Library
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