1961

Protest movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is held in Albany, Georgia, November 1961-August 1962.

Federal Court orders black students to be admitted to the University of Georgia, January 6, 1961. Riot occurs at university, January 11, 1961.

ICC desegregation ruling is announced, September 22, 1961.

In the summer of 1960, the Freedom Rides begin. Integrated teams of activists from SNCC and CORE members test compliance with desegregation of inter-state transportation by riding buses through the South. New Orleans is their last stop.

The Freedom Riders are attacked by furious whites outside of Anniston, Alabama. The bus is burned on the roadside. The riders continue to Birmingham, Alabama, where they are brutally beaten by a white mob at the bus station as police stand nearby. Jerome Smith is beaten at McComb, Mississippi.

When the Freedom Riders arrive in New Orleans, they are beaten by police. In response, CORE members stage a sit-in at the office of the police superintendent and picket City Hall.

The sit-ins and pickets continue at McCrory's and Woolworth's on Canal Street in New Orleans.

In 1961, school integration in New Orleans lacks the verbal abuse and the threats of violence that characterized the first year of school integration. Anti-integration forces begin to lose momentum. However, integration in 1961 consists of only twelve black students attending six formerly all white elementary schools, including five at McDonogh 19. This school has four white pupils in the second year of integration.

In March 1961, after Woolworth's and McCrory's refuse to desegregate its lunch counters, pickets in front of the stores continue to urge a boycott. Stores on St. Claude Avenue are also picketed.

The Consumers' League threatens to boycott NOPSI because of the refusal of the company to employ black bus and street car drivers in New Orleans.

In December, 1961, 1,200 black college students march to the state capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to protest the recent arrests of black students. Two hundred and ninety two students are arrested.

1962

President Kenney federalizes Mississippi National Guard troops to force the integration of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), September 29, 1962.

Los Angeles Riot occur, April 27, 1962.

Ole Miss Riots occur as white students seize campus to protest integration, October 2, 1962.

Two years after the public schools, Archbishop Rummel orders the integration of New Orleans Catholic schools. Rummel excommunicates arch-segregationist Leander Perez and Mrs. B.J. (Una) Gaillot, a New Orleans housewife who attacked Rummel's orders to desegregate. Mrs. Gaillot formed an organization, Save Our Nations, to fight integration. She was also the leader of the Cheerleaders, an organization of white parents who stood outside of the integrated public schools harassing the white and black children who entered the schools.

In 1962, token integration in New Orleans is achieved. The White Citizens' Council of Greater New Orleans starts to lose its once powerful influence.

Boycotts in New Orleans continue, protesting segregation. Voter registration drives are underway in the city.

In April, 1962, Federal Judge Skelly Wright orders the first six grades of all public schools integrated in the Fall of 1962.

Judge Wright receives a Federal appointment and leaves New Orleans. His replacement, Judge Frank B. Ellis, moderated Wright's order, requiring only the first grades of each public school to desegregate in the Fall of 1962.

In August 1962, a three judge panel rules that the state's "pupil placement law" is unconstitutional. This allows second and third graders to transfer to schools in the fall of 1962. In 1961, only sixty-six black children have been transferred to all-white schools.

1963

Brutal suppression of protests in Birmingham, Alabama, April-May 1963.

Alabama governor George Wallace, denouncing integration, makes his "school house stand" at University of Alabama, June 11, 1963.

March on Washington, the largest protest of the Civil Rights movement, takes place, August 28, 1963.

Klan bombs a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing several children, September 15, 1963.

Centennial of Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1963.

Medgar Evers, Mississippi NAACP field secretary, is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi, June 12, 1963.

In February, 1963, eleven black students enroll at Tulane University. Eight are graduate students, three undergraduate. The desegregation of Tulane University, which had been endowed 120 years before by Paul Tulane who stipulated that it be a school for "white males," was ordered by a Federal court order in response to a so-called "friendly" suit filed by Rosa Keller, Henry Mason, and John Furey.

The local press agrees to allow the first day of integration to pass without publicity.

In March, 1963, the Consumers' League threatens to stage a boycott of Canal Street stores at the busy Easter season. Merchants on Canal Street agree to hire seventy-five blacks as sales clerks and in other jobs requiring responsibility.

The pickets continue in front of the stores which do not honor the agreements.

In July, 1963, a three judge panel orders the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) to desegregate parks, playgrounds, and all other facilities.

In the case U.S. v. Louisiana, Justice John Minor Wisdom challenges the applicability of the "constitutional interpretation tests," the tests which were used to deny black people the right to vote. Wisdom's challenge is an "historical treatise" on the disfranchisement of black voters in Louisiana, beginning with Reconstruction and ending with the emergence of the Whites Citizens' Councils. The interpretation test, Judge Wisdom concludes, is a device purposely conceived to deprive blacks of the right to vote. It is unconstitutional.

On August 12, 1963, the city of New Orleans agrees to remove racial signs from all public buildings. The city also agrees to refrain from appealing court orders which it had done to thwart desegregation. The city's civil service agrees to hire applicants on "a basis of qualifications" and promises to hire black firemen and sanitation workers. The agreements are worked out between the black leadership in New Orleans and the elite of the white business community during a special bi-racial meeting. Mayor Vic Schiro signs the agreements for the city.

On August 19, 1963, CORE members stage a march on Plaquemine, in Iberville Parish just south of Baton Rouge on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The protest is held to protest the denial of black people the right to vote in the parish. More than two hundred of the protesters are arrested. James Farmer of CORE spends ten days in the Donaldsonville jail in nearby Ascension Parish.

Later protest marches in Plaquemine are brutally dispersed. In one march, James Farmer sought refuge from police by going into a funeral home in which a service was underway. When police burst in, the funeral home director, a black woman, insisted they leave. Farmer was spared an uncomfortable fate. He escaped to New Orleans in a hearse.

On September 30, 1963, ten thousand black people and three hundred whites march from Shakespeare Park to City Hall and demand that Mayor Vic Schiro create a bi-racial committee to advance the process of desegregation. Called the Freedom March, it is the largest political demonstration of black people in the history of New Orleans. No city official is present at City Hall to meet the demonstrators Before the crowd in front of City Hall, Oretha Castle observes, "As long as we are held in economic and political slavery, they, the whites, aren't free either."

On October 4, 1963, New Orleans police raid headquarters of the civil rights organization Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) and seize its records. The homes of SCEF leaders are searched. The leaders are arrested and charged with "subversion" (e.g. communists).

The First Unitarian Church in New Orleans objects to the state's raid on SCEF. It is later bombed by anonymous persons.

On October 31, 1960, Reverend Avery Alexander and CORE members, including Jean Castle and Sondra Nixon, stage a sit-in at the segregated cafeteria in the basement of the New Orleans City Hall.

The police arrest the protesters and march them to the police wagons outside. Reverend Avery Alexander refuses to be unseated. The police seize Avery Alexander by the ankles and drag him up two flights of stairs. Harry Kelleher, one of the white businessmen who played an integral part in the desegregation of New Orleans, said of the incident at City Hall, "That was the only breach that occurred between the white leadership and the black leadership. We made profuse apologies. We were mortified."

1964

Black protesters march in St. Augustine, Florida, March-June 1964.

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) is founded, April 26, 1964. MFDP delegates demand seating at Atlantic City Convention, August 1964.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is awarded Nobel Prize, December 10, 1964.

Lyndon Johnson is elected president; Hubert Humphrey is vice-president.

24th Amendment eliminates polling tax (designed to prevent blacks from voting) on Federal elections, January 23, 1964.

After the racial violence in Birmingham, Alabama, President Johnson signs Civil Rights Bill, July 2, 1964, known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney are killed in Neshoba County, Mississippi, June 21, 1964.

Race Riots occur in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

In January, the Ku Klux Klan burns crosses throughout Louisiana.

In January, fifteen black people register to vote in Tensas Parish, Louisiana. Tensas is the last parish to maintain total disfranchisement of blacks.

In November, the Deacons of Defense and Justice form in Jonesboro, Louisiana. It is a black group that advocates armed self-defense against the Klan.

In December, 1964, Ku Klux Klan members from the Natchez, Mississippi, area burn the Ferriday, Louisiana, shoe repair shop owned by fifty-one year old Frank Morris, who dies in the blaze.

1965

Black protesters, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., march on Selma, Alabama, January-March 1965.

Dr. King meets with President Johnson, February 9, 1965.

Voting Rights Act is signed, August 6, 1965.

Riots in Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, August 11-16, 1965.

Beginning in January, Black protesters picket Columbia Street stores in Bogalusa, Louisiana, a Klan stronghold. Militant desegregation continues.

In May, a large Klan rally is held in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

On June 2, O'Neal Moore, a black Washington Parish Sheriff's deputy, is murdered by a white man who drove him by in a pickup truck near Bogalusa. Ernest Ray McElveen, a forty one year old Crown Zellerbach labor technician and member of the Citizens' Council of Greater New Orleans (and the National State's Rights party), is arrested not far from the murder scene.

In July, militant protests by the Voter League and the Deacons force Justice Department to enforce Civil Rights Act through suits against city officials and the Klan.

1966

The focus of black protest moves to the North.

1967

Black protesters, protected by National Guardsmen, march from Bogalusa to the state capitol at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

1968

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, April 4, 1968.

1977

Ernest "Dutch" Morial is elected first black mayor of New Orleans.

Susie Guilloy Phipps files suit against the state of Louisiana to have the race designation on her birth certificate changed from black to white. In 1983, the state court ruled against her. Phipps gave up after the case went to Fourth District Court of Appeals. She spent forty thousand dollars on legal fees.

1980

Armstrong Park opens on the site of the former Congo Square.

1986

Sidney Barthelmy is elected mayor.

1994

Marc Morial is elected mayor.

1995

Louisiana has the second highest poverty rate of any state in the nation. Mississippi is first. In New Orleans, fifty percent of the children live below the poverty level.


GLOSSARY A - M

AVERY ALEXANDER - Reverend Avery Alexander was one of the leading black figures in the Civil Rights struggles in New Orleans. He helped organize and participated in the Dryades Street Boycott as a member of the Consumers' League in 1960. He also took part in the sit-in demonstrations on Canal Street and elsewhere in the city. In virtually every civil rights confrontation, Alexander was at the forefront. On October 30, 1963, he led the sit-in at the cafeteria in City Hall. Police dragged him from the cafeteria by his ankles. Alexander is today a state legislator from New Orleans.

BLACK CODES - In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, leaders of the white population in many communities established Black Codes. The Black Codes were a harsh set of rules governing the lives of the recently freed slaves, known as Freedmen. The Black Codes maintained the black population in a semi-slavery state. They were outlawed in 1867 with the start of Radical Reconstruction.

BLACK MONDAY - May 17, 1954, the day the Supreme Court announced its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, was described by segregationists as "Black Monday."

Mississippi Senator James O. Eastland said, "On May 17, 1954, the Constitution of the United States was destroyed because of the Supreme Court's decision. You are not obliged to obey the decisions of any court which are plainly fraudulent [and based on] sociological considerations."

RUBY BRIDGES - Beginning on November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges was the sole black student at William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. She was in a class of one with her own teacher. Her father was fired from his job as a result in reprisal. In her first year at Frantz, Bridges suffered a loss of appetite. Each day the angry crowds outside shouted, "We're going to poison you until you choke to death."Uneaten sandwiches were later discovered in Ruby's locker. She is today a counselor at William Frantz and works to involve families with school life.

BROWN V. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION - On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Brown v. the Board. The case was based on the suit filed in Topeka, Kansas, by the father of Linda Brown, age seven. He resented that his daughter had to travel across town to attend a black school when a white school was nearby. The court ruled that separate educational facilities "are inherently unequal." It said: "To separate them [black children] from others of similar race and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way very unlikely ever to be undone."

On May 31, 1954, the court ruled that desegregation was to be implemented "with all deliberate speed." This wording allowed segregationist to delay efforts at school integration.

RAPHAEL CASSIMIRE - Raphael Cassimire was a young black activist in New Orleans. He led the NAACP Youth Group in protests on Canal Street and elsewhere in the city. As a child, he remembers his first brush with segregation: he reversed the dreaded race screen on a bus. A nearby white man insisted Cassimire return the race screen to its original position. Cassimire refused. Cassimire tested compliance with desegregation in Brookhaven, Mississippi. He picketed segregated stores alone. He is an example of the activist, direct-action branch of the local NAACP.

ORETHA CASTLE - Oretha Castle, a student at Southern University in New Orleans, was one of the founders of the New Orleans chapter of CORE in the summer of 1960. They believed that the NAACP's approach to civil rights was too slow, and they wanted to initiate peaceful direct action campaigns. In the spring of 1960, she participated in the boycott of the stores on Dryades Street. There she met other young black people interested in advancing the cause of civil rights. Castle was fired from her job at Hotel Dieu Hospital after participating in the first sit-in strike at Woolworth's Department Store on Canal Street in New Orleans. Castle was deeply influenced by her two grandmothers by whom she was partly raised in rural Tennessee. Both grandmothers gave her a sense of self-worth and dignity. One said, "I'd rather pick with the chickens than be beholden to somebody." The Castle home at 917 North Tonti Street was the unofficial headquarters of CORE in New Orleans.

A.J. CHAPITAL - A.J. Chapital was director of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP in the 1950's. He helped organize the McDonogh Day Boycott in 1954 and was a leader of many of the desegregation efforts in the city.

CHEERLEADERS - Led by a Una Galliot, the Cheerleaders were a group of between forty and a hundred white working class women who harassed children at William Frantz and McDonogh 19. The women evinced extreme racial hatred. The author John Steinbeck, present on the street in front of the schools, said, "No newspaper had printed the words these women shouted. It was indicated that they were indelicate, some even said obscene. On television the sound track was made to blur or had crowd noises cut in to cover. But now I heard the words: bestial, and filthy and degenerate."

Bill Monroe of WDSU TV said, "I got an emotional understanding, a kind of understanding that goes deeper than the intellectual, of the depth and intensity of the feelings involved in this problem. Even though you've lived side by side with it, you cannot realize how fully these emotions can possess people until you've seen them come to the surface right before your eyes, raw and trembling."

The historian Adam Fairclough has noted, "These [the Cheerleaders] were merely symptoms of a problem, not the problem itself. Opposition to integration permeated every social class."

CITIZENS' COMMITTEE - The Citizens' Committee was an organization of black leaders which helped negotiate the desegregation of the city with their white counterparts including Harry Kelleher. The Citizen's Committee included several generations of black leaders, including black lawyers Lolis Elie, Revius Ortique, and Dutch Morial. Their colleagues were the Reverends A.L. Davis and Avery Alexander. Dr. Leonard Burns represented the United Clubs and the Urban League. Oretha Castle, the only woman on the Citizens' Committee, represented CORE.

ROBERT COLLINS - Robert Collins attended Gilbert High School in New Orleans. In 1951, he became one of the first black students to attend LSU law school. He formed a law practice with Lolis Elie and Nils Douglas on Dryades Street in New Orleans. The law firm represented CORE activists during the sit-in strikes. Collins remembers being particularly angered at segregation as it existed in the Federal courthouse: "Everyone went along with the segregated system. They were blinded to what they were doing, and these were supposed to be good, God fearing people, you know, the pillars of society. It was a lot to take."

CORE (CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY) - CORE, founded on the principle of non-violent direction action, opened a chapter in New Orleans during the summer of 1960. A group of young activists had met on the picket line during the Dryades Street Boycott in the spring of 1960. They were: Rudy Lombard, Jerome Smith, Oretha Castle, and others. The group was racially mixed. Most of the black participants came from Southern University in New Orleans and LSU at New Orleans (UNO). Others came from Dillard and Xavier. A few white students from Tulane University also participated in CORE. On September 9, 1960, the CORE activists (five blacks, two whites) staged a sit-in at Woolworth's on Canal Street. They were arrested. The next day the NAACP Youth Group continued the sit-ins. Richard Haley, a CORE member, said, "What we're trying to do is to sting (the whites') consciences a little. They don't want to think about it. Well, we must make them think about it."

CORE activists, including Jerome Smith, David Dennis, Julia Aaron, and Doris Jean Castle from New Orleans, participated in the Freedom Rides in the summer of 1961. The Freedom Rides were designed to test discrimination in inter-state travel. Jerome Smith was beaten in McComb, Mississippi. The CORE activists were arrested and spent time in Parchman Prison in Mississippi.

The CORE headquarters in New Orleans was 917 North Tonti Street. The organization was supported by Oretha Castle's parents. Racial tensions gripped CORE, and white members were expelled from the organization in the summer of 1962.

JIM CROW - In the 1830's, the white minstrel actor Thomas "Daddy" Rice performed comic representations of black people, including a lame black man named Jim Crow. Rice sang the first international hit: "Wheel about and turn about and do just so. Every time I wheel about I jump Jim Crow." By early 19th century, Jim Crow described the far-reaching, institutional segregation that affected every aspect of American life.

REVEREND A.L. DAVIS - Abraham Lincoln Davis, a founding member of SCLC, was born in Bayou Goula, Louisiana. His father was a preacher for black people living on nearby plantations. His mother organized a school for black children in the church building. A.L. Davis became a minister at the New Zion Baptist Church in New Orleans at age 20. He studied at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He emerged as a civil rights champion during the desegregation of public transportation in 1958: "I am issuing the call to one hundred thousand Negroes in this vicinity to rise up and let Perez and his followers realize that the time is out for segregation and a for all that this evil monster stands for." Davis organized the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) which was capable of mobilizing thousand of black activists. As Lolis Elie remarked in Righteous Lives, "If there was to be a mass meeting, there was only one way to get it, through the IMA. I think he (A.L. Davis) was the best leader we had."

Reverend Davis helped organize the Dryades Street Boycott and sheltered CORE activists who arrived in New Orleans on the Freedom Rides.

ALBERT DENT - Albert Dent was the president of Dillard University for twenty eight years, beginning in 1941. Dent directed the purchase of Flint Goodridge Hospital by Dillard. Dent grew up in segregated Atlanta, Georgia, and refused to ride segregated public transportation: "As a boy I walked all over Atlanta. Where ever I wanted to go, I walked." In reference to Brown v. the Board decision, Dent said, "Abraham Lincoln freed the Negro slaves, but the Supreme Court freed the white man." Albert Dent influenced many black students who later became leaders of the local civil rights movement.

DRYADES STREET SHOPPING DISTRICT - The Dryades Street shopping district, located in a black neighborhood, was the second largest shopping area in the city. Ninety-five percent of the shoppers were black, although no blacks were employed above the menial level in the Dryades Street stores. The Consumers' League, organized by the Reverends A.L. Davis and Avery Alexander, and by Dr. Raymond Floyd, and Dr. Henry Mitchell. Lolis Elie, Ernest "Dutch" Morial, Nils Douglas, black attorneys, provided the Consumers' League activists with legal representation. In April 1960, after fruitless negotiations with the Dryades Street merchants, the Consumers' League organized a boycott. It was the first march for civil rights in 20th century New Orleans. The merchants suffered during the Easter business week before deciding to hire some blacks for jobs as clerks.

LOLIS ELIE - Lolis Elie was born in New Orleans. He attended Gilbert Academy. Each day he had to cross segregated Audubon Park; he later recalled the mean spirited policeman who would not let black children pause as they walked through the park. As a young man, Lolis Elie joined the Merchant Marines and visited New York City where he saw a highly integrated situation: "I knew I was never gonna live in the south again." Elie was drafted into the U.S. Army. It was during this time that he had white friends and that he "really read." Afterwards, he entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. He then studied law at Loyola University in New Orleans. There he became friends with Jack Nelson, a white lawyer who later devoted himself to civil rights. Elie formed a partnership with Robert Collins and Nils Douglas and opened an office at Jackson Avenue and Dryades Street, across from the Negro YMCA of that time. They were the principal defenders of the CORE activists.Elie was with CORE activists in Plaquemine, Louisiana, when the protest march was broken up by tear gas and by police charging on horse back. Elie became disillusioned with what he described as the conservatism of the New Orleans black community. He turned to black nationalism.

INTERPOSITION - Interposition was a patently unconstitutional legal argument by which white segregationist attempted to "interpose" themselves between the Federal government and the state thereby preventing desegregation laws from being enforced.

T.J. JEMISON - A black minister, T.J. Jemison led a boycott of segregated public transportation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the summer of 1953. The white leadership in Baton Rouge refused to accede to T.J. Jemison's demands, but ultimately the boycott ended in compromise: seating on the buses thereafter would be on a first-come, first-served basis with two side seats up front reserved for whites and one long seat in back set aside for blacks. One of the important aspects of the Baton Rouge boycott (which lasted eight days) was the way black leaders established a car-pool system . Black people owning cars drove other black people to and from work each day, thereby overcoming the dependence of public transportation. This car-pool system was adopted by black leaders in Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1955, when the black community of that city launched a bus boycott. The Baton Rouge Boycott was one of the first times in the 20th century when a community of blacks had organized a sustained, direct action against segregation and won. However, white leaders refused to honor many of the promises that had been made.

HARRY B. KELLEHER - Harry Kelleher was a well-connected corporation lawyer in New Orleans who became appalled at the ugly spectacle that erupted during the school desegregation crisis in November 1960. Like other businessmen, he feared that the social upheaval would adversely impact the business climate in the city, as it had done in Birmingham, Alabama.

On January 30, 1961, Kelleher spoke at a testimonial dinner for the embattled Orleans Parish School Board. In favor of peaceful integration, he said, "This country and the south cannot go backward."

He was a pragmatic community leader who preferred racial change to the social and economic costs of Massive Resistance, the policy advocated by the White Citizens' Council. Kelleher and two other leading representatives of white Uptown New Orleans, Darwin Fenner and Harry McCall, joined forces with some of their black counterparts in the city, including Revius Ortique and Lolis Elie, who formed a black group called Citizens' Committee to negotiate with the white business elite. Kelleher and McCall persuaded the Canal Street merchants that it was in their best interest to desegregate: "McCall and I could talk to them like 'Dutch uncles,' cause nobody was paying us a sou, you see."

Kelleher was the grandson of Civil War veterans. His family taught him that "civilized people don't abuse servants." He believed that New Orleans had long encouraged an "ethic of tolerance" and was a "civilized community." He said, "Reality needed to be faced up to and recognized and dealt with intelligently and responsibly. It's just that simple."

ROSA KELLER - Rosa Keller was one of the few white people born in New Orleans who openly fought for desegregation. She was the daughter of the local Coca-Cola magnate, A.B. Freeman. Her brother, Richard R. Freeman, sat on numerous boards in the city. Keller was a close friend of Judge J. Skelly Wright. She had traveled with her Jewish husband in the U.S. Army and seen prejudice through his eyes: "It was World War II that woke a lot of us up...I'd married a Jewish fellow, and learned a lot about prejudice then..I thought I could see the seeds of what got Germany in such terrible trouble right here."

In 1953, Keller was appointed to the Library Board by Mayor Chep Morrison. She was the first woman to serve in that capacity. She used her position to press for the desegregation of the public libraries, beginning with Latter Memorial Library in Uptown New Orleans. The Library Board opposed her vehemently. In 1954, the public libraries began desegregating after what Keller describes as a "very difficult and ugly battle."In the 1950's, she became chairman of the board of Flint-Goodridge Hospital, a black institution owned by Dillard University, and she tried to persuade Orleans Parish Medical Society to admit black doctors to its membership. Keller also served with the Urban League, a multi-racial organization devoted to expanding economic opportunities for blacks. There she met middle class, educated black women for the first time. Along with Edgar Stern, Keller helped finance the building of Ponchartrain Park. In 1963, Keller helped finance the suit that led to the desegregation of Tulane University.

MAURICE "MOON" LANDRIEU - Born in New Orleans, "Moon" Landreiu grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood in New Orleans. His parents operated a small grocery store out of the front room of the family's shotgun house. He attended Loyola University Law School where he met Loyola's first black law students, Ben Johnson and Norman Francis. They became friends. Landrieu told historian Kim Lacy Rogers, "I could never equate segregation with Christianity. It didn't follow. It was all contradictory." Landrieu opened his first practice in a poor neighborhood; half his clients were black. He was elected to the state legislature. In 1959, virtually alone in the legislature, Landrieu voted against the segregation statutes in that session. In 1970, Landrieu was elected mayor of New Orleans and brought blacks into the political system in large numbers for the first time since Radical Reconstruction.

RUDY LOMBARD - Rudy Lombard was raised in Algiers. His mother was a domestic servant who worked in an Uptown residence. His father was a hospital orderly and a defiant man. He had a fist fight with a notorious Jefferson Parish sheriff, and he congratulated his son with a case of Barq's Rootbeer after the son defiantly chose to play at the "whites only" playground. Lombard was elected president of the student body at Xavier University. He also worked as a longshoreman. In the summer of 1960, he and other activists organized the New Orleans chapter of CORE. Lombard served as chairman. He left the organization in 1966, angered at what he considered the conservative attitudes of the black community in New Orleans.

MCDONOGH DAY BOYCOTT - Each year in New Orleans, black and white students from the public schools honored 19th century philanthropist John McDonogh who had left much of his fortune to the public schools in Baltimore and New Orleans. The event was organized along segregated lines, and the black children often waited under the May sun while the white schools paraded before them. In 1954, the black teachers' associations protested this discrimination. NAACP leader in New Orleans, A.J. Chapital, joined with Revius Ortique to organize a boycott of the McDonogh Day ceremony. In May 1954, only thirty four of city's 32,000 black public school children attended McDonogh Day. Only one black principal appeared. McDonogh Day in 1954 indicated that the various groups within the black community could organize as a single body to demand their rights. The boycott was repeated in 1955.

ERNEST "DUTCH" MORIAL - Ernest Morial was born to a Catholic Creole family in New Orleans in 1929. Morial was educated in Catholic institutions and later recalled fond memories of running errands for the nuns. Encouraged by local NAACP counsel A.P. Tureaud, Morial and Robert Collins were the first black students to graduate from LSU law school. Tureaud was determined to get more black lawyers to fight the coming civil rights battles. Morial spent two years in the U.S. Army intelligence before returning to New Orleans where he opened a practice with Tureaud, his mentor. Morial became active in the NAACP and worked on major civil rights cases. He was elected president of the New Orleans NAACP in 1962. Three years later, he became the first Louisiana black U.S. attorney, working in the civil rights division. In 1977, Morial was elected first black mayor of New Orleans.

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