John James Audubon (1785-1851) was the son of a French sea merchant and a French chambermaid. Audubon, born in Saint Domingue, became an accomplished ornithologist and wildlife artist. He wrote the seminal, Birds of America, in which he painted and described birds of America and its territories. The Audubon Society is named in his honor.
From the research I have done, there are conflicting accounts concerning whether Audubon himself was Mixed. He was definitely raised in a Mixed household.
“According to his earliest written testimony, he was born around 1780 at his father’s plantation in Louisiana , the son of an exceptionally beautiful Spanish Creole woman and a French admiral. In fact, he was born Jean Rabin on April 26, 1785 in Les Cayes, Saint Domingue (later Haiti ), the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and merchant, Jean Audubon, and a French chambermaid, Jeanne Rabin. When he was 3, young Jean was brought to France and placed in the care of his father’s indulgent wife. He and his mulatto half-sister Rose were formally adopted by the Audubons in 1794 and he was re-named Jean Jacques Fougere Audubon.”
I was particularly intrigued to learn about Audubon’s Mixed heritage because of the importance of birds and bird-watching for the character Brick in my book The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. Brick is a light-skinned African-American mistaken for Mixed, becomes obsessed with identifying birds–he loves the certainty of being able to name something with just a visual cue.-Heidi Durrow
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by The New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for archived profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year’s profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. Copyright 2015.