Arkansas Citizen Participation in Government Act.16-63-502

Nov 30, 2007

Louisiana Creole Indians: A Resolute & Relevant Ethnic Group Of YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW

Antecedents - Condoleezza Rice

The Rice family comes from slaves of the old South. Because of this the family history of Condoleezza Rice can only be traced three or four generations back. Below, we have put together a genealogical chart:

Condoleezza Rice family tree image

Her paternal great-grandfather was Wesley Rice. He had been born a slave and later had become a poor tenant farmer. He was a Methodist, raising his children as such. One of his children, John Wesley, decided that the way to advance in the world was to follow the example and advice of other up and coming black men such as George Washington Carver, and get an education. In 1918 he went to the Stillman Institute in Alabama. He soon ran out of money. The Presbyterian Church offered him a scholarship if he would train to become a Presbyterian preacher. It is said that he proclaimed that he just happened to be thinking of doing that!

In 1922 The Reverend Rice married Theresa Hardnett who was half Creole and from Louisiana, which means that she was probably of mixed race. John Wesley Rice then began to travel throughout the South, helping to establish schools and churches. They had only one son, John Wesley Rice Jr. (Condoleezza's father), who was born in 1923 in Baton Rouge. He grew up in the city and went to high school there. Following in his father's footsteps John Wesley Jr. went to Stillman in 1942 to receive and education. He continued his education at Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte, NC. Like his father, he became a Presbyterian minister. (He got his divinity degree in 1949.)

In 1951 he moved to Titusville, near Birmingham, Alabama. This was a church his father had started. He became the director of education there. While also coaching football at Fairfield Industrial High School he met and married Anglena Ray. She was a teacher of music, math, and science.

Angelena Ray was the daughter of Albert Robinson Ray III. He had worked in several jobs including builder, miner, and blacksmith. He had been born somewhere between 1893 and 1895. He ran away from home at 13. He was found by a white businessman who provided for him until he reached his majority. Angelena's mother was Mattie Lula Porram (Ray), a house-wife who taught piano. The father, Albert Ray, worked hard, basically doing three jobs simultaneously. He worked as a coal miner in the day, he worked in his own blacksmith shop in the evenings and built houses on the weekend. He instilled in his children a love of hard work and the value of education.

Creoles are generally known as a people of mixed French, African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry, most of who reside in or have familial ties to Louisiana. Research has shown many other ethnicities have contributed to this culture including, but not limited to, Chinese, Russian, German, and Italian.

This culture began as an offspring of the Old World and the New when this country was still being colonized. Creoles are not one thing or the other, and have lived their lives being misunderstood, misrepresented, and misinterpreted. In the past, under White government, Creoles were not allowed to be an equal part of society. Blacks, free and slaves, did not feel Creoles were part of their world either. Because of this rejection, Creoles had a strong bond with one another and had to create their own world and culture.

They were self-sufficient and relied on each other. Creoles were landowners, artists, teachers, and business people. Even today this bond among Creoles nationwide is strong. There is tremendous pride in knowing where they come from. The Creole Heritage Center is committed to the challenge of correcting the wrongs and misconceptions associated with this culture and will represent the Creoles in a true light. Their culture and heritage, rarely acknowledged in spite of its uniqueness, is worthy and deserving of attention and preservation; without it an important part of the American experience could be lost.

Louisiana Creoles: Cultural Recovery and Mixed-Race Native American Identity
By Andrew J. Jolivétte

Louisiana Creoles examines the recent efforts of the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center to document and preserve the distinct ethnic heritages of this unique American population. Dr. Andrew Jolivétte uses sociological inquiry to analyze the factors that influence ethnic and racial identity formation and community construction among Creoles of Color living in and out of the state of Louisiana.

By including the voices of contemporary Creole and Creole Indian organizations, preservationists, and grassroots organizers, Jolivétte offers a comprehensive and insightful exploration of the ways in which history has impacted the ability of Creoles to self-define their own community in political, social, and legal contexts. This book raises important questions concerning the process of cultural formation and the politics of ethnic categories for multiracial communities in the United States. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the themes found throughout Louisiana Creoles and Creole Indians are especially relevant for students of sociology and those interested in identity issues.

About the Author: Andrew Jolivétte is assistant professor in the American Indian studies department at San Francisco State University.