ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — A vigil was held in St. Landry Parish Wednesday to remember the victims of the Opelousas Massacre, where 300 Black people were killed on September 28, 1868.

Families were killed in their homes, shot in public, chased down and murdered. It was the deadliest instance of racial violence during the Reconstruction period.

The story of the Opelousas Massacre is seemingly forgotten, said Wilken Jones, founder of the Rural African American Museum.

“I was born and raised in this community and went to high school and college and I had never heard of this massacre at all,” Jones said.

Those in attendance at the event lit candles and said prayers.

“That’s not counting the people that lost their homes, that were driven out of their homes, that lost their businesses, all because they wanted to continue that march towards a more perfect union and have voting rights, equal access to education, some of the same things we are fighting for today,” said Rod Sias, vice president of the St. Landry Parish Chapter of the NAACP.

Sias said tension between black people and white supremacists is what eventually led to the massacre. At that time, Black men finally had the right to vote.

“You have to know all of this about what happened in the past so you don’t make the same mistakes in the future and now in the present,” he said. “It’s important that people today understand what happened so that the history is not tainted, and we can learn from past mistakes and lessons. That’s why it’s important.”