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Only Black Passenger on Titanic

Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche (May 26, 1886 – April 15, 1912) was a Paris-educated Haitian engineer.

He was the only black passenger on the ill-fated voyage of the RMS Titanic.bHe got his pregnant French wife and their two daughters onto a lifeboat; they survived, but he himself did not. At the age of 15, he was sent to Beauvais, France to study. After he graduated with an engineering degree, he married Frenchwoman Juliette Lafargue. However, he was unable to find work matching his qualifications due to the color of his skin in a racist society. Tired of living off of his wine seller father-in-law, he decided to return to Haiti with his growing family. His uncle, Cincinnatus Leconte, the President of Haiti,arranged a job for him as a math teacher. His mother purchased first class passage for them aboard the liner La France. When he and his wife learned of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique’s policy against children dining with their parents, they exchanged their tickets for a second class passage aboard the Titanic. Laroche died in the sinking of the Titanic. His body was never recovered. His wife returned to Paris with her daughters Louise and Simonne Laroche and gave birth to their son, Joseph Lemercier Laroche. Laroche, a three-act opera based on his life, was an official part of the 2003 National Black Arts Festival and was scheduled to premiere at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center on July 18.