New Orleans in Orleans Parish, Louisiana — The American South (West South Central)
Civil Rights Pioneers / History
McDonogh No. 19 Elementary School
— Site of the Integration of Southern Elementary School November 14, 1960 —
Civil Rights Pioneers
On November 14, 1960, four six-year-old children in New Orleans became the first African-Americans to integrate "white only" public elementary schools in the Deep South. On that day, three girls enrolled in McDonogh No. 19 School at 5909 St. Claude Avenue. A fourth girl began classes at William Frantz School at 3811 North Galvez Street.
The integration of New Orleans public elementary schools marked a major focal point in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. With worldwide attention focused on New Orleans, federal marshals wearing yellow armbands began escorting the four girls to the school at 9 am. By 9:25 am, the first two public schools in the Deep South were integrated. As front line soldiers in the Civil Rights Movement, the four girls, their families, and white families who kept their children in integrated schools endured taunts, threats, violence and a year-long boycott by segregationists. Despite danger, the four children successfully completed the school year. Their courage paved the way for more peaceful expansion on integration into other schools in the following years.
The integration of New Orleans schools was part of a larger action by the NAACP to end segregated schools nationwide. Since the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, schools across the Deep South were rigidly segregated based on race. Although they were supposed to be equal in quality to white schools, the black schools received subpar facilities and educational material.
In September 1952 with assistance of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, New Orleans attorney A.P. Tureaud initiated a suit on behalf of Earl Benjamin Bush calling for an end to the segregated school system in Orleans parish. In 1954, the United States Supreme Court set aside the Plessy decision and ruled that segregated schools are unconstitutional. The high court ordered that public schools be desegregated "with all deliberate speed." In 1956, the US Court of Appeals dismissed multiple attempts by the Louisiana Legislature to thwart integration efforts.
In 1959, Federal Judge J. Skelly Wright ordered the Orleans Parish School Board to integrate its schools. After a series of aptitude tests, the four girls were selected to integrate McDonogh 19 and William Frantz schools in the New Orleans Ninth Ward.
Erected by Crescent City Peace Alliance and The Plessy & Ferguson Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these African Americans • Civil Rights • Education • Peace.
Location. 29° 57.627′ N, 90° 0.757′ W. Marker is in New Orleans, Louisiana, in Orleans Parish. Marker is on Saint Claude Avenue (State Highway 46) east of Alabo Street, in the median. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5909 St Claude Avenue, New Orleans LA 70117, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Saint Maurice Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); First Ward Justice Courthouse and Jail (approx. 0.9 miles away); The Historic Lower Ninth Ward / Industrial Canal Flood Wall (approx. one mile away); Olivier Plantation House (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Naval Station (approx. 1˝ miles away); Ninth Ward WWI Memorial (approx. 1˝ miles away); Chalmette Battlefield (approx. 1.6 miles away); The Kentucky Rifle (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Orleans.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 12, 2017. It was originally submitted on November 12, 2016, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 319 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 12, 2016.