“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lafayette in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana — The American South (West South Central)

Pillars of Progress

Desegregation of SLI

Pillars of Progress Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Waldon, January 26, 2013
1. Pillars of Progress Marker
Inscription.  On September 15, 1953, Clara Dell Constantine, Martha Jane Conway, Charles Vincent Singleton, and Shirley Taylor attempted to enroll at Southwestern Louisiana Institute, now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. They were denied, due to their race. On their behalf, attorneys Thurgood Marshall, a future appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and civil rights pioneer A.P. Tureaud filed a class action complaint in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on January 4, 1954, seeking admission to the all-white school.

A panel of three judges - Wayne G. Borah, Benjamin C. Dawkins, Jr. and Edwin F. Hunter, Jr. - ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. On July 16, 1954, the court issued a judgment that permanently prohibited SLI from refusing to admit them, "or any other Negro citizen of the state, residing in Southwest Louisiana, and similarly qualified and situated," on the basis of race or color.

On September 10, 1954, SLI became the first all-white, state-supported college in the Deep South to desegregate, when 76 African American students registered for classes, including the four plaintiffs in Constantine
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v. SLI
. Trying times lay ahead. Desegregation was accomplished without the violence that occurred later when other southern schools admitted African American students for the first time. But turmoil on SLI's campus took its toll: by mid-term, the number of African American students at SLI had markedly decreased.
Erected 2004 by Alumni Association, University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Location. 30° 12.785′ N, 92° 1.235′ W. Marker is in Lafayette, Louisiana, in Lafayette Parish. Marker is on Rex Street near E.St. Mary Blvd.. Plaque on building behind campus bus stop. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Lafayette LA 70503, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. Edwin L. Stephens (approx. mile away); Lafayette Museum / Le Musee de Lafayette (approx. half a mile away); Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (approx. half a mile away); James Domengeaux (approx. 0.6 miles away); Jean Jacques Alfred Mouton Monument (approx. 0.6 miles away); General Alfred Mouton (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist (approx. 0.7 miles away); St. John Cathedral Oak (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lafayette.
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsEducation

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Credits. This page was last revised on February 2, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 24, 2013, by Mike Waldon of Lafayette, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 746 times since then and 66 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on June 24, 2013, by Mike Waldon of Lafayette, Louisiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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