Thomas Aiello is associate professor of history and African American studies at Valdosta State University in Georgia. He is the editor of New Orleans Sports: Playing Hard in the Big Easy. His book Jim Crow’s Last Stand: Nonunanimous Criminal Jury Verdicts in Louisiana helped spark a movement that constitutionally overturned the state’s nonunanimous jury law. He is also the author of more than a dozen other books.
To be posted when available.
Jim Crow’s Last Stand: Nonunanimous Criminal Jury Verdicts in Louisiana
Winner of the PROSE Award Honorable Mention
The last remnant of the racist Redeemer agenda in the Louisiana’s legal system, the nonunanimous jury-verdict law permits juries to convict criminal defendants with only ten out of twelve votes. A legal oddity among southern states, the ordinance has survived multiple challenges since its ratification in 1880. Despite the law’s long history, few are aware of its existence, its original purpose, or its modern consequences. At a time when Louisiana’s penal system has fallen under national scrutiny, Jim Crow’s Last Stand presents a timely, penetrating, and concise look at the history of this law’s origins and its troubling legacy.
The nonunanimous jury-verdict law originally allowed a guilty verdict with only nine juror votes, funneling many of those convicted into the state’s burgeoning convict lease system. Yet the law remained on the books well after convict leasing ended. Historian Thomas Aiello describes the origins of the statute in Bourbon Louisiana—a period when white Democrats sought to redeem their state after Reconstruction—its survival through the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. Louisiana (1972), which narrowly validated the state’s criminal conviction policy.
Spanning over a hundred years of Louisiana law and history, Jim Crow’s Last Stand investigates the ways in which legal policies and patterns of incarceration contribute to a new form of racial inequality.
New Orleans Sports: Playing Hard in the Big Easy
New Orleans has long been a city fixated on its own history and culture. Founded in 1718 by the French, transferred to the Spanish in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, and sold to the United States in 1803, the city’s culture, law, architecture, food, music, and language share the influence of all three countries. This cultural mélange also manifests in the city’s approach to sport, where each game is steeped in the city’s history.
Tracing that history from the early nineteenth century to the present, while also surveying the state of the city’s sports historiography, New Orleans Sports places sport in the context of race relations, politics, and civic and business development to expand that historiography—currently dominated by a text that stops at 1900—into the twentieth century, offering a modern examination of sports in the city.
Book-loving volunteers are essential to the Louisiana Book Festival's success. Whether it's escorting authors, guiding visitors, selling refreshments, working with children in the Young Readers Pavilion or other fun and rewarding assignments, the Louisiana Book Festival wants you to join the volunteer team.