Finally a comprehensive, easy-to-read history of LES GENS DE COULEUR LIBRE - as the French called them in the 1700's (the free people of color) known as Creoles of color after the Civil War and today, simply as Creoles. The pocket sized book, illustrated and with notes and index, describes a missing link in most histories of the African-American experience. Freed from the 1730's on, these people emerging in French and Spanish colonial Louisiana, formed a large and powerful community. Some of them owned wealthy estates and others dominated trades such as leatherworking, cigar making and carpentry. On the eve of the Civil War, these Creoles of color numbered in the thousands, owned $15 million of property in New Orleans and were active in the slave trade; thus some of them fought with the Confederacy. The book explains contributions of free people of color in education, politics, religion, journalism, art, etc.; the laws that tried to keep them in their place; and the major role of PLACAGE, liaisons between free women of color and white men. It discusses the ongoing effect of this group on New Orleans today, as well as ongoing issues of race and the Creole controversy resulting in their unique history. Includes an extensive bibliography and index.