The Beauvais Family - Magical Freedom Fighters
The Beauvais family is a prominent and, some would say, infamous wizarding family from New Orleans. Jeremiah Beauvais was born enslaved in 1792 to two Muggle parents, a Muggle-born wizard born two years after Rappaport’s Law prohibited wizards from mingling with Muggles in the United States. Jeremiah’s parents quickly realized that there was something special about their son, and encouraged him to develop his magical powers, though they cautioned him to do it away from the eyes of the slave master. Jeremiah never went to Ilvermorny, teaching himself to control his magic without the use of a wand. He didn’t hear about the magical school until after he gained his freedom (by magical means) and began to learn more about the magical community and wand magic.
Though he eventually became more integrated into the magical community - marrying (free) Black pure-blood witch Amity Bellgrove - he found it difficult to completely separate himself from his Muggle family, who had nurtured and brought him up under the inhumane conditions of American slavery. Once Jeremiah won his freedom, he vowed to use his gifts to free others. He and Amity soon joined the Underground Railroad, making their home a safe house for Black people wishing to escape slavery. Eventually, they had two children, Renee (b. 1829) and Thomas (b. 1832). They were sure to imbue their values in their children, and soon the two of them also joined the fight against slavery.
Jeremiah and Amity lived relatively short lives for wizards, both dying in their early 60s from a nasty case of dragon pox that had swept the southern United States during that time. Renee Beauvais and her brother Thomas continued their father’s work, and together with Thomas’s wife Madelyn (née Johnson), they turned their father’s home into the Beauvais Wand Shop in 1852. The wand shop became increasingly popular in the last half of the 19th century, bolstered by the mystery of their wand cores. Though it wasn’t found out for quite sometime later, the Beauvais’ used the hair of the rougarou as their wand cores. While they were known as dangerous dog-headed monsters that lived in the Louisiana swamps, the Beauvais had a unique relationship with them, one that came in handy when they used the wand shop as a stop on the Underground Railroad (for Muggles and wizards alike). The rougarous protected escaping Black people on their way to the wand shop, often killing or maiming the slave catchers on their tail.
Tragedy struck the Beauvais family when both Renee and Thomas were arrested by MACUSA in 1861 on the eve of the Civil War, accused of violating Rappaport’s Law. Madelyn continued their work through the Civil War, often hiding wanted Black soldiers and escaped enslaved people. She used her own knowledge to build a network of Black witches and wizards in the south who used their magic to aid Union soldiers and the Black people for which the war was being fought. Her own family, the Johnsons of Georgia, were wiped out by MACUSA, again for aiding Muggles in the war.
By the time Violetta Beauvais (b. 1857) took over the shop in 1890, the Beauvais family name was in disgrace and Beauvais wands were rumored to take to Dark magic. Black southern families still patronized them, remembering all of the great work they’d done, even as white wizards went to others. It is known that President of MACUSA Seraphina Picquery has a Beauvais wand herself.
There was a boom in the sales of Beauvais Wands during Reconstruction, but they were hit hard once it ended. Violetta and her siblings Thomas, Jr., Danielle, and Sarah continued to aid southern Black Americans regardless of magical status, as did their descendants. Because of this, they often ended up in jail - Thomas, Jr. and his son Thomas III, Danielle and her wife Clara, and Sarah’s daughter Mary all were tried and found guilty by MACUSA for aiding Muggles. They were not the only Black wizarding family punished in the 19th and early 20th centuries for their refusal to leave Black Muggles powerless, and it is widely known (though not often acknowledged by white wizards) that Rappaport’s Law put a staggering number of Black wizards in prison for aiding their Muggle families and communities escape slavery and persecution from southern whites. It was even less talked about that some of the southern white people oppressing and exploiting Black Muggles and wizards were wizards themselves - MACUSA tended to turn a blind eye on white wizards who benefited from slavery and the subsequently continued oppression of Black people.
In 1965, the repeal of Rappaport’s Law prompted the descendants of Violetta and her siblings to argue for the freeing of Black wizards who had been fighting against racism, but MACUSA refused. In 2012, 19 years after Violetta’s death, the President of MACUSA, Dale Aberdeen, apologized to Black families for their treatment, saying the American magical government was “re-committed to forging a path of mutual respect and kinship with all races.” Witches and wizards who had been convicted of fraternizing with Muggles during Rappaport’s Law are still in prison, though Aberdeen has promised to remove them on a case-by-case basis.
Bayana Davis is a proud Ravenpuff born and raised in Oakland, California. She is the cofounder and Editor in Chief of Black Girls Create and a fierce advocate of critical fandom, the increased representation of black women in media, time travel, dragons, and avoiding the AI apocalypse. You can generally find her fangirling on Twitter at @yana_hallows.