Celebrating Black History in Louisiana

Louisiana's Old State Capitol is honoring the numerous political and social achievements of African Americans to our great state.

Throughout this month we will feature the well-known, and the unknown, the places and subjects that have helped shaped Louisiana. It's important to remember that Black History is more than just Martin Luther King and slavery and it certainly cannot be reduced to just one month.

It is our sincere hope that we inspire and encourage our visitors to participate and celebrate these contributions with us everyday.

Notable Figures in Louisiana Black History

Pierre Caliste Landry
Sylvanie Williams
Alexander Pierre Tureaud

Donna Brazile
PBS Pinchback

Notable Places in Louisiana Black History

St Augustine Catholic Church
Lincoln Beach
Lincoln Theater

Notable Contributions in Louisiana Black History

La Tribune de la Nouvelle
Rosenwald Schools

*Please note this is not a cumulative list of all the incredible accomplishments of African Americans in Louisiana history but rather a few that we have taken particular interest to.

Resources from the Louisiana Digital Media Archive

Plessy v. Ferguson
This excerpt from the series “Louisiana: A History” features a look back at the landmark 1896 United States Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld segregationist laws through the doctrine of “separate but equal.” The case originated in Louisiana when New Orleans native Homer Plessy challenged the state’s “Separate Car Act” by refusing to give up his seat in a train car designated for white passengers. This clip also looks at the subsequent passage of disenfranchisement laws, which made it virtually impossible for blacks to qualify for voter registration.

Rosenwald Schools
This segment from the June 7, 2013, episode of the series “Louisiana: The State We’re In” features Shauna Sanford's interview with Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, the curator of the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville, about her discovery that a wooden school house donated to the museum was actually a Rosenwald School. Hambrick-Jackson also discusses the history of the Rosenwald Schools, schools built for the education of African Americans during segregation in the early 20th century through a partnership between Booker T. Washington, an African American author and educator, and Julius Rosenwald, the CEO of Sears & Roebuck. Sanford also talks to Prince Davis, a former student of the Rosenwald School restored by the museum. Hosts: Charlie Whinham and Shauna Sanford

Louisiana's First Black Nurses
This segment from the December 13, 2013, episode of the series “Louisiana: The State We’re In” features Shauna Sanford's interviews with five of the first black nurses in Louisiana during the 1950s, Earl Dean Joseph, Catherine Jackson, Ethel Rucker, Gwendolyn Miller and Lucinda Clark. They discuss: their training at the Capital Area Trade School in Baton Rouge, the first nursing school available to African Americans; their work at the Baton Rouge General Hospital in the Four South unit, the only hospital unit available to black nurses and patients; caring for their patients with inferior equipment; and the integration of the hospital’s cafeteria

Baton Rouge Bus Boycott
A 2004 documentary focused on the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, the nation’s first large-scale bus boycott challenging segregation. This program explores: segregation in Baton Rouge; the grassroots activism of the African American community during the 1940s and 1950s, especially in the area of voting rights; the events that led to the boycott of the Baton Rouge Bus Company; the 8-day bus boycott and subsequent compromise with the City Council; the leadership of Reverend T.J. Jemison of the Mount Zion First Baptist Church and the United Defense League throughout the boycott; the impact of the successes and failures of the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott on Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-1956; and the importance of the bus boycott to the evolution of non-violent, grassroots civil rights activism during the Civil Rights Movement.

Various Oral Histories and Stories with notable Black Louisianans