If you saw blockbuster hit “Titanic” back in 1997 or the recent “Titanic 3D,” you would never consider that there were any Black passengers on board.
But what few people are aware of is that there was a Haitian-born, French-educated man on the Titanic by the name of Joseph Laroche.
He was traveling his wife, Juliette Lafargue, and two children on a journey that was suppose to eventually take them to his native Haiti in 1912.
But, like more than 1,500 other passengers, he never made it to his destination.
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Laroche moved to France at the age of 15 to study engineering because such schools were not available in Haiti. He earned excellent grades and graduated with an engineering degree. Along the way, he met and married his wife Juliette in 1908. Though Laroche was well-educated he could not find work in his profession.
When Laroche graduated he expected to find employment in his field because of the many opportunities in Paris for someone with his education. Unfortunately, there was one problem he had not taken into consideration — racism. Although France is a bucolic country with beautiful scenery, marvelous cities and nice people, racial prejudice at that time could prevent someone from employing a young dark-skinned man. Though Laroche eventually did find work, his employers found any excuse — from racism to inexperience — to pay him poorly.