In honor of Black History Month, I would like to pay tribute to a little known black hero, Caesar Carpenter "C.C." Antoine. He was Louisiana born and bred in New Orleans and came from "good stock." His father fought at the Battle of New Orleans and his mother was of African/West Indian heritage and the daughter of a captured African Chief. His mother purchased her own freedom and amassed a small fortune for her time which enabled the family to live as free blacks. Their wealth also afforded Antoine a quality education at the best private schools where he became fluent in English and French.
In New Orleans, Antoine established and ran a successful grocery business. However, after the Civil War broke out and the Union captured and occupied New Orleans, this proud young nubian joined the Union Army. He quickly rose to the rank of Captain in the one of the nation’s first all-black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards. He also recruited former slaves to serve in Company I of the Seventh Native Guard which he organized at Brashear which was 85 miles from New Orleans.
After the Civil War, Antoine moved to Shreveport, Louisiana where he purchased land for farming and and went back into the grocery business.
However, he soon answered a call to serve his Country during Reconstruction in an effort to make life better for his family and other newly freed African Americans. His first political office was that of a Delegate to Louisiana’s Constitutional Convention in 1868 which set the parameters of Louisiana’s Reconstruction-era state government. With black voting rights established under the protection of federal troops, Antoine served Louisiana as State Senator between 1868 and 1872 and Lieutenant Governor from 1872 to 1877. In 1876 he was briefly Acting Governor. Antoine’s tenure in office ended soon after the Compromise of 1877 which withdrew federal troops from Louisiana, allowing the Democrats to return to power.
Antoine enjoyed a life that former slaves and blacks had previously only dreamed of. He had a nice house, investments in the railroad and lottery, raised race horses and co-owned the semi-weekly newspaper called "Louisiana" with Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, the nation's first black Governor of a U.S. state. Antoine also served in 1880 as the president of the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Company.
C. C. Antoine died in September of 1921 in his house on Perrin Street at the age of eighty-five. He is buried in Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Shreveport. In 1982, an 8-acre park was dedicated to him.
So in honor of Black History Month, I would like to salute this very accomplished Louisianan, Caesar "C.C"Antoine. I thank God for you C.C. May He bless you and pray that he blesses you richly in the Afterlife!