Seen through the eyes of a native son:
MAURICE M. MARTINEZ, in this firsthand account of survival on a deep-South landscape speaks to the elan vital of a multiethnic, multicultural American. Once upon a time in the Land of Epidermis, in a place called the 7th Ward in New Orleans, there lived a group of marginalized Americans known as gens de couleur libres (free persons of color). Offspring of the cross-fertilization of European colonizers, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans, were systatically excluded from free access to the fruits of the American Dream. They were defined by the amount of melanin in their skin, relegated to a subordinate status of segregated outcasts, and labeled “Colored” and “Negro” for having as little as 1/32nd of so-called African “blood.” Placed in an enclave of earthly Limbo, these gens de couleur libres created an enduring legacy of tenacity and resilience in their response to the illusion of inclusion.