Quawan Charles and the Bloody History of Southern Black Folks Gone Missing

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On October 30, 15-year-old Quawan “Bobby” Charles left his father’s home in Baldwin, Louisiana, without permission in a car with a 17-year-old white friend and the friend’s mother.

On November 2, Charles’ body was discovered in an open field in Loreauville, Louisiana, after authorities reported his alleged drowning.

Charles’ family is questioning the validity of the report as images of his disfigured face began circulating on social media. Their suspicions are warranted based on where the incident took place and the history that predates it.

Baldwin, Louisiana, has a population of 2,138 according to 2020 data. It is 63 percent Black, has a 22.9 percent poverty rate, and is declining in its population at a rate of -2.42 percent annually. Baldwin is a small town in rural Louisiana with a majority Black population. It has all the historical character traits of areas where Black folks have been taken from and never returned.

Loureauville, Louisiana, the area where Charles’ body was found, has a population of 845. It is 77.5 percent white, less than 20 percent Black and statistically bears a striking resemblance to other small southern towns where Black folks have met their final rest.

When Charles’ family alerted authorities that he had gone missing, their concerns were dismissed and they were told he probably went off to a football game. According to Charles’ family spokesperson, Celina Charles, the family still has not been shown exactly what creek the alleged drowning took place in.

The family is seeking an independent autopsy and has every reason to pursue such a measure.

Charles’ death is shrouded in mystery at a time when hate crimes have been on a consistent incline in the United States. It is subject to further examination based on a legacy of abducted Black boys in southern towns and cities, who later turned up dead.

If foul play is discovered, it would be consistent with an American narrative of Black folks in rural communities dying on backroads, found in waterways and open fields by way of racial violence.

We do not know all the details of what happened to Quawan Charles, but we do know this place. And that alone is reason to be skeptical.

What You Can Do

Contact the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office and demand transparency in the investigation of Quawan Charles’ death. The number to their office is (337) 828-1960. Also, follow the law office of Civil Rights attorney Ron Haley for updates on the case and for insight on how you can advocate for answers.