Mavis Fruge

Cultural Activist
Arnaudville, LA

“You know, looking back how was there not a revolution? Because there were over a million French speakers back then in the state of Louisiana. Don’t you marvel at something like this? How could people not take up arms and defend the language they had known all their lives?”

Cultural activist Mavis Arnaud Fruge was born and raised in Arnaudville, Louisiana, a rural town of about 1,500 people, nearly half of whom speak Mavis’s first language of French. For years she has worked tirelessly to support and foster the continuance of the Acadian language and heritage, which has been imperiled since the 1920s. She founded and continues to host La Table Francaise, a monthly gathering of folks from across the region to spend time speaking their endangered language together, a quietly radical act. Mavis’s indefatigable efforts at preserving the uniqueness of Cajun and Creole culture have garnered her many honors, including Louisiana’s first Prix de la Franco-Responsabilité award, and St. Landry Parish Citizen of the Year.

Photo: Claire Bangser