Norbert Rillieux was born in New Orleans in 1806, the son of a white planter,engineer and inventor and a free woman of color. Because he came from a well to do Creole family, he was privately educated in Catholic schools and in the Ecole Centrale in Paris. He is best known for his invention of an evaporating mechanism that revolutionized the sugar refining industry and was still considered a marvel for the following decades. He also proposed a plan to combat the Yellow Fever epidemic that gripped New Orleans in the 1850s. He was dismissed, largely because of racism, but the city eventually wound up using the same plan which had been presented by white engineers. Rillieux returned to France and spent the rest of his life creating new devices and traveling abroad. He died in 1894.