Tombs of Jean Baptiste Roudanez and his mother Aimée Potens

Jean Baptiste Roudanez, publisher of L’Union, the South’s first black newspaper, and the New Orleans Tribune, America’s first black daily newspaper, is entombed alongside his mother Aimée Potens, a free woman of color, in Square 3 of St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. This section of St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 honors many civil rights pioneers of African descent, including Henriette Delille, Rodolphe Desdunes, Arthur Esteves, André Callioux, Jordan Noble, Marie Couvent, P.B.S. Pinchback, Oscar Dunne and many others. Square 3 has been described as “the greatest collection of memorials to African-American achievement in the world.”  

Roudanez and fellow activist Arnold Bertonneau delivered a historic petition to President Lincoln on March 12, 1864, demanding the right to vote. Signed by almost 1,000 free men of color from New Orleans, the document righteously proclaimed “WE ARE MEN, TREAT US AS SUCH!” For the first time, Louisianans of African descent boldly entered the whitest house in America, the inner sanctum of the country’s authority. They were frustrated with Lincoln’s gradualism and general failure to support the growing national movement for racial equality. [1]

The petition’s demand for voting rights for all men of African descent, “WHETHER BORN SLAVE OR FREE,” [2] was realized in September 1867, nearly 3 years before the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified. Black Louisianans turned out in large numbers, electing an almost equal number of black and white delegates who would go on to create the South’s most radical Reconstruction state constitution.



St. Louis Cemetery No. 2., Square 3, St. James Aisle. New Orleans, LA. ~ Walk all the way down the center aisle toward Iberville Street. St. James Aisle is the last alley. Turn right and pass several tombs on your right. The Roudanez/Potens tomb is marked Delacroix.