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The Wall of Honor

 

The Wall of Honor is a memorial dedicated to all the people who were enslaved on the Whitney Plantation. The names and the information related to them (origin, age, skills) were retrieved from original archives and engraved on granite slabs.

So far, more than 350 slaves were identified on official records. Sexual exploitation gave an additional level of horror to the lives of enslaved women.  Every individual identified in legal records as a “mulatto” was, by definition, a product of white parentage in some measure. This occurred virtually exclusively due to slave owners impregnating their slaves.  This was a common occurrence prior to emancipation and the “relationship” between white owners and enslaved women was sometimes documented through birth records.

 

The couple who would become the ancestors of the African American Haydel family, Victor Theophile Haydel (1835-1924) and Marie Celeste Becnel (1840-1885) were both born on the Whitney Plantation. Victor was the son of an enslaved woman named Anna, who was herself a mulatto. Victor was fathered by Antoine Haydel, the brother of Marie Azelie Haydel, the last Haydel family member to own the Whitney. Celeste was a daughter of Francoise, the enslaved cook of Marie Azelie, and was fathered by Florestan Becnel, Marie Azelie’s brother-in-law. It is known that each of these men was married, and that refusing to engage in sexual relations with a white man was not an option available to either of these women.

Victor is the ancestor of all the black Haydels many of whom became successful entrepreneurs, educators, and politicians. One example is the Morial family which gave two mayors to New Orleans. Victor Haydel was the great grandfather of Sybil Haydel, an educator, activist, and a community leader. Sybil became the First Lady of New Orleans when her husband, Ernest N. Morial, was elected the first African-American Mayor of the Crescent City. Their son, Marc Morial, also rose to fame and was elected President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, while serving two full terms as the mayor of New Orleans like his father.

 

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