How Many Black People Died on the Titanic?

March 21, 2024

When people ask how many black people died on the titanic, most would probably guess there were a lot. But the truth is that there was only one black person on the Titanic – a Haitian man named Joseph Laroche. He was traveling in second class with his white wife and their two daughters. The two girls survived the sinking, but Laroche did not.

As a result, the story of this family has largely been forgotten. But in an era where the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic is still beloved, learning about this real-life story may shed light on our collective obsession with this ship, and ideas of race and mobility at that time.

The 2,000-passenger luxury ocean liner Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, after it struck an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. The disaster prompted worldwide outrage at the extreme loss of life. The deaths of several well-known first class passengers — including John Jacob Astor IV, Benjamin Guggenheim, and Isidor and Ida Straus, who owned Macy's department store — were widely reported in the press.

But little was known about the fate of other passengers, including the infamous matron of the ship, Rose DeWitt, and her three servants, and one second class passenger who did not survive, Jack Dawson. The enduring image of Dawson is that of an arrogant and self-confident African American who refused to play by the rules of his time and was ultimately punished for it.


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