University of New Orleansby Representative Cedric L. Richmond
Posted on 2013-12-12
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Mr. RICHMOND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor fifty-six African-
American students whose bravery and determination resulted in the
University of New Orleans being the first university in the American
South to open as a fully integrated institution of higher education.
This year is the 55th anniversary of that historic moment in my
Established in 1956, The University of New Orleans was originally called Louisiana State University in New Orleans, or LSUNO. Classes began in September 1958 with a total of 1,460 students, all freshmen and double the number originally anticipated. Of that total, fifty-six African-American students registered to attend LSUNO that fall.
Four years after the Supreme Court struck down ``separate, but equal'' in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, there were still some who would seek to deny these students admission to the public university. Civil rights activists led by Alexander Pierre Tureaud, an attorney for the New Orleans chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the civil rights movement, and Ernest V. ``Dutch'' Morial, who later became a two-term New Orleans mayor, brought suit in federal court to allow black students to attend LSUNO While the local branch of the NAACP sought to prepare the African-American students for their groundbreaking efforts, leaders of the White Citizens Council of Greater New Orleans worked to provide harassing and degrading conditions for the students on a daily basis. Some of the African- American students were not able to endure such conditions for many weeks, while others remained in place for a few semesters. One of them, Mrs. Louise Williams Arnolie, still managed to graduate within four years.
The students encouraged one another throughout the painful process. LSUNO's classrooms and campus were integrated, but its privately managed dining hall barred African-Americans. The students petitioned the LSUNO administration to end the cafeteria's contract. Following continued pressure from attorneys Tureaud and Morial, as well as student boycotts, Dean Homer Hitt gave the cafeteria's managers an ultimatum in the fall semester of 1960: Either serve all students or give up the lease. The company chose to give up the lease, and every part of the university was by then integrated.
Today, the University of New Orleans is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the most ethnically diverse public university in the state. Let us never forget that this remarkable diversity did not come easily. I would like to acknowledge the names of those fifty-six brave and determined individuals who enrolled at the University of New Orleans in 1958: Brenda Holman Allen, Vincent A. Angeletta, Louise Williams Arnolie, Charles P. Breaux, Yvonne Buckles, Dorothy M. Caulfield, Janice E. Coleman-Sawyer, Laurence Crawford, Shirley M. Crawford, Claudine Curtis, Crystal M. Davis, Samuel Dugar, Josephine Eli, Wilson (Willison) Fleming, Harold L. Fontenette, Ferdinand J. Fortune III, Phillip L. Fortune, Geneva M. Gambrell, Jo Ann Gaskin, Charles S. Gibson, Peggy M.C. Jackson, Shirley M. Jennings, Alvin F. Johnson, Ervin C. Kinsey, Daniel J. Lewis, Sylvester Lyle Jr., Ernestine M. Lyons, Rosalee Mckinley, Rosemary J. McLean, Doris J. Mackey, Lucy Madere, Rose Mary Mays, Priscilla L. Metoyer, Phillip J. Mitchell, Joseph L. Narcisse, Gwendolyn A. Norman, Audrey M. Page, Walter L. Peck, Marilyn J. Phillips, Nelson J. Pierce, Samuel G. Poplus, Geraldine Reimonenq, William Ricks, Patricia R. Robinson, Ronald Shiloh, Charles W. Smith, Mildred T. Smith, Warren A. Smith, Jacquelyn M. Stansberry, Gloria Stokes, Angela A. Vaughn, Jennie F. Warmington, Algie V. Williams, Charles K. Williams, Joseph L. Williams, and Ellis Wilson.