Simone, Juliette, Louise and Joseph Laroche Photo: The Titanic Historical Society, Inc. (1/1)
On April 12th 1912 the ocean liner RMS Titanic, the largest vessel afloat at the time, sailed from Southampton to New York. Four days later, the ship collided with an iceberg and sank, killing 1500 of the 2200 people aboard. Amongst the passengers were the mixed race Laroche family - Joseph and Juliette Laroche and their two young daughters, Simonne and Louise. Joseph, an engineering student from an upper-class Haitian family met Juliette, the daughter of the upper middle-class Lafargue family in France, where he had moved to complete his studies. They married in 1908 at the Larfargue home and Simonne and Louise were born in the following few years; at the time of their voyage, Juliette was pregnant once more. Finding that racial prejudice prevented Joseph from obtaining well-paid work in France, the Laroches decided to relocate to Haiti and ended up on the ill-fated Titanic. While the family did make friends with other passengers on the ship, they were nevertheless subject to racism, which was rife amongst the Titanic’s crewmembers (the White Star Line, the company that owned the Titanic, later issued a public apology for the crew’s derogatory statements and behaviour towards the ‘non-white’ passengers).
As the ship sank, reports indicate that Joseph was calm and heroic. He managed to get Juliette and the children up to the boat deck and on to a life boat; consequently the three survived the disaster. Joseph, however, sank with the ship; his body was never found. Juliette returned to France with Simonne and Louise to live with her father. Juliette went on to have a baby boy whom she named Joseph.