The only black man on the Titanic was Haitian - The life story of Joseph Phillipe Lemercier Laroche

You've seen the movie TITANIC starring Leonardo DiCaprio but did you know there was a Haitian engineer passenger on the real RMS Titanic?

Joseph Phillippe Lemercier Laroche, his wife and daughters - The only interracial couple on board RMS Titanic

Joseph Phillippe Lemercier Laroche was the only black man, a Haitian engineer, who perish in the Titanic. That's after he saved his wife and kids.

Lemercier Laroche was born in Cap Haitien, Haiti, on May 26, 1889.

His uncle was President of Republic of Haiti. Which president? Keep on reading.

In the blockbuster film Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio's role could have easily been played by a Black man and it would have been historically accurate.

In fact, the life story of Haitian native Joseph Phillippe Lemercier Laroche is far more intriguing than the movie's lead character, but no one knew of his existence until recently.

The silence about the stranger-than-fiction life story of the Titanic's only Black passenger astonishes noted Titanic historian Judith Geller, author of Titanic: Women and Children First, who said, "It is strange that nowhere in the copious 1912 press descriptions of the ship and the interviews with the survivors was the presence of a Black family among the passengers ever mentioned."

The story of this interracial family was not known until 2000, three years after the movie's release, when the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry and the Titanic Historical Society revealed the information as part of a Titanic exhibit.

Joseph Phillippe Lemercier Laroche was born into a powerful family. His uncle, Dessalines M. Cincinnatus Leconte, was the president of Haiti. When Lemercier was fifteen, he left Haiti to study engineering in Beauvais, France. Several years later, he met Juliette Lafargue, the 22-year-old daughter of a local wine seller. The two eventually married.

Despite having an engineering degree, Joseph's skin color left him unable to find employment in France. The Laroches decided to return to Haiti and booked second-class reservations on the Titanic. After the ship struck an iceberg, Joseph loaded his wife and children onto a lifeboat and he went down with the ship. His body was never recovered.

Shortly before Christmas of that year, Juliette Laroche gave birth to their son, Joseph Laroche Jr.

Juliette never remarried.

Read: What Happened To The Only Black Family On The TITANIC

Thank you, Lindsay Firmin, for this info.

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All Comments (18)

Carol Merceron says...

Most definitely a movie should be made about the only black family (Haitian man w/French wife & children) aboard the Titanic who died while saving his family.

Information kept out from the world to know

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Kartini says...

Emily, I am thrilled for you and Clay!!!!! What a fun uptade to receive from my LinkedIn email! I didn't expect to find out about this on there but I am so glad I did. You two will be the most wonderful parents.

It may be too soon to take Baby Osburne to an Auburn football game but I'd love to meet the little man UGA weekend (I'll be coming from Dallas for that game)! God is good, all the time what an amazing blessing Praise

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Marilyn says...

i think i've just run into a relative of yours in west palm beach, fl.this story would make a great

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Carli says...

I don't think this family was intentionally left out of Black History books, scholars just didn't know. Now someone from the Titanic Assoc.

probably did know or this picture would've never been revealed when it was. Someone probably held on to

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Marlie Alberts says...

I am the Great Great Grand daughter of Joseph Phillippe Lemercier LaRoche.

I have doing this research for some time & found out that my father never took his father's last name LaRoche.

I am my father are the only two in our family that look carbin copy to him. I visited in 2001 his daughter-in-law in Villejuif, France with a translator because I could only speak english.

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Margaret says...

the truth will always set u free. we are very powerfull&intelligent people Also bless being billingual!yeah noto mention the very [1rt] black nation to gain their Independance on 1804 if only we were

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Martee says...

How interesting !! Was the photo of his family?

Was there any backlash because his family were

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Cameau says...

Funny! How they constantly try to hide the heroics, and development of the Haitian nation in history.

The thruth will never remain silent.

There's also two sides to every

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Lookan Kane says...

First of all, I'd like to thank the author and secondly, CaRiMi, guys, you will always be my favorite band and I will always keep you in my mind. You're the best, because of you a lot of people know about this huge historical information.

Keep it

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Rose says...

we are a great

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