As part of the National Park Service’s commemoration of African American History Month, Phebe Archon Hayes, Ph.D., will present “Enslaved African People in Acadiana” at the Acadian Cultural Center 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday, February 29. The program is free and open to the public; high school level and above are the suggested age groups. The Acadian Cultural Center of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is located at 501 Fisher Road in Lafayette. For more information, call 337-232-0789 ext. 201 or visit www.nps.gov/jela
Hayes is a native and life-long resident of Iberia Parish and a descendant of West Africans enslaved on local plantations before the Civil War. Her genealogical research has led her to ancestors on area plantations, including some who fought for emancipation during the Civil War as members of the United States Colored Infantry (formerly the Corps d’Afrique) or the U.S. Navy.
Hayes retired from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2013 following 26 years of service as Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders (1986-2013) and Dean of the College of General Studies (1998-2013). Since retirement, she has studied her family’s history as well as the history of African Americans in Iberia Parish. Hayes is the founder and president of the Iberia African American Historical Society http://iaahs.blogspot.com/. Her efforts led to an official state historical marker in New Iberia’s historic district that commemorates the achievements of New Iberia native Dr. Emma Wakefield-Paillet, Louisiana’s first black female physician.
The Acadian Cultural Center is managed by the National Park Service as part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The center is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to noon. The center is closed on federal holidays and Mardi Gras. The film “The Cajun Way; Echoes of Acadia” is shown hourly beginning at 9:00 a.m., with the last showing at 3:00 p.m. The center also features exhibits and programs on the history and cultures of south Louisiana. Admission to the center and for most center programs is free. Group tours are available by reservation. Call the Acadian Cultural Center at 337-232-0789 ext. 11 or visit www.nps.gov/jela