The Exodus of the People of Mossville
By Rebecca O. Johnson
Mossville, a small community in Southwest Louisiana, was settled over 220 years ago by 12 Black families led by the freedman Jim Moss. At its founding in 1790, the area was still controlled by France and while Blacks weren’t fully enfranchised as citizens, the French government did allow African Americans to own land. Mossville wasn’t allowed to incorporate as a village or town, but it was one of those African American places that governed itself, schooled its children, grew food, fished and built businesses. A century and a half later, Mossville has survived annexation by the United States, the Civil War and Jim Crow rule of the 20th century. But today, the town stands on the brink of disappearing, wiped away by multinational petrochemical companies.