Oscar Dunn Was the First Black Lieutenant Governor in America – and Some Doctors Suspected His Sudden Death Was Murder

Oscar James Dunn

Oscar James Dunn was the first Black lieutenant governor not just in Louisiana but the whole of America.

In his early years, Dunn led a civic force to promote education and youth initiatives for emancipated Blacks whilst challenging white politicians over civil rights.

After the Civil War and Reconstruction, Dunn made sure that freedmen seeking work on farms were not cheated and actually paid for their work.

He reportedly opened an office to cater to their needs and used his education to write contracts for recently released enslaved people so they could work on plantations without being cheated.

Encouraged to run for public office because of his contributions to the growth of black people, Dunn became a member of what was then known as the Radical Republican party.

The Radical Republican Party, as explained by Nick Weldon who works for the Historic New Orleans Collection was “the progressive party that was trying to extend civil rights to African Americans, especially in the South.”

Dunn ran for office and was elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana in 1868.

He was born in New Orleans around 1822 to an enslaved mother, Maria, who fell in love with a free man of color named James. James later purchased the freedom of his wife and their two children for $800 in 1831.

By the time Dunn turned 11, he was free and could go to school. He learned a trade (plastering) and he was excellent at it.

Dunn grew up to become the head of the black Masonic Lodges in Louisiana, according to Brian Mitchell, his descendant and a college history professor who has spent much of his career studying Dunn.

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Source: Face2Face Africa