Posts Tagged ‘Black History Month’

1963 New Orleans Freedom March

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, the following images (previously blogged about here) highlight the September 30, 1963 Freedom March in New Orleans.

While lunch counters and department stores had begun to desegregate in New Orleans by the summer of 1963, public administration had not yet implemented wide-spread desegregation efforts. On August 9, 1963, New Orleans Mayor Victor Schiro signed an agreement to desegregate public buildings, including City Hall; begin hiring qualified blacks for city positions; and cease appealing court desegregation orders or harassing businesses that were in the process of desegregating. However, only portions of the agreement were actually implemented, and on September 30, more than 10,000 whites and blacks marched from Shakespeare Park (now A.L. Davis Park) to City Hall to present the “Petition to the Greater New Orleans Community” demanding the realization of the August 9 agreement and other directives. The Mayor and other white politicians refused to meet with the protesters, so a week later, Reverend A.L. Davis presented the petition to City Council. Protests and demonstrations continued in New Orleans throughout the fall and winter of 1963, with City Hall’s cafeteria finally being desegregated shortly thereafter.

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Don Hubbard at left.

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At left Revius Ortique and Father Twomey.

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Left to right: unidentified, Rev. Avery Alexander, Solis Elie (foreground), Rev. A.L. Davis.

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Left to right (foreground): Father Twomey, Solis Elie , Ernest Morial.  Also featured in image – Rev. A.L. Davis and Rev. Avery Alexander.

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Left to right (foreground): Dr. Leonard Burns, Oretha Castle Haley, & Revius Ortique.

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Msgr. Charles Plauche.

These photos, taken by B. Raynal Ariatti, are from the Louis J. Twomey S.J. Papers and the B. Raynal Arriati Papers, and were previously on exhibit in Special Collections & Archives Booth-Bricker Reading Room as part of the exhibit We March in Dignity. These images and many more like them are available for research in Special Collections & Archives M-F 9-4:30.

Creole Voices

Continuing our celebration of Black History Month, the following pair of books are just a few of the many items related to the history of Louisiana’s people of color in Loyola’s Special Collections & Archives.

Creole voices; poems in French by free men of color (in French, Les Cenelles), was published in 1845 by Armand Lanusse, a free man of color living in New Orleans. The poetry collection was a landmark publication. Lanusse worked most of his career as a teacher at the L’Institution Catholique des Orphelins Indigents. An original edition of Les Cenelles is digitized and available online in the Louisiana Digital Library thanks to the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Nearly 100 years later, Lanusse’s work was highlighted by Charles Barthelemy Roussève, who was born to an accomplished black Creole family in 1902. After studies at Xavier Preparatory School and Straight College, Roussève  completed his master’s degree in history from Xavier University of New Orleans where his thesis, The Negro in Louisiana; aspects of his history and his literature, became the first book-length publication issued by Xavier University Press. The Negro in Louisiana drew attention to Lanusse’s little known Les Cenelles.

Roussève went on to work as an educator in New Orleans for 45 years as both a teacher and a principal and also published poetry, prose, and translations. Roussève’s papers are held at the Amistad Research Center.

Both of these books and many more like them are available for research in the Booth-Bricker Reading Room in Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives M-F 9-4:30.

Black History Month and opera

The New Orleans Opera has had the privilege of performing with some of the most talented and accomplished opera singers in the world, including a number of black opera singers. In conjunction with Black History Month, following are a few of the illustrious singers of color who have performed with the NOOA.

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Native New Orleanian Shirley Verrett (pictured here in a 1983 NOOA performance of Tosca) filled in as Carmen for the NOOA in 1980, making her the first black singer to perform the role with NOOA. She had previously been the first black singer to perform the role at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

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Bass-baritone Alfred Walker has become an international superstar since he graduated from Loyola’s master’s program in 1996. Walker won the Regional Metropolitan Opera Council Audition and made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Grégorio in Roméo et Juliette in 1998. He has performed with NOOA in Macbeth and Elektra (1994); Madama Butterfly (1995); Andrea Chénier (1996); Rigoletto (1997); and La Bohème (2014). He is pictured above in Loyola’s 1996 performance of Die Fledermaus.

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Another Loyola alum, Giovanna Joseph, has performed supporting roles in Salome and Porgy and Bess with NOOA. In 2011, Joseph founded Opera Creole, a nonprofit company dedicated to discovering and performing music written by nineteenth century New Orleans Creole men and women of color. She is pictured above (left) with her daughter Aria Mason (right) and singer Hope Briggs (middle) in NOOA’s 2010 Porgy and Bess; this performance marks the first time a mother and daughter both had singing roles in the same NOOA production (image courtesy of Givonna Joseph).

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Mezzo-soprano Débria Brown was another trailblazing New Orleans native who battled prejudice to become an international opera star. Brown graduated from Xavier University and began her professional career with the New York City Opera opposite Loyola alum and fellow New Orleanian Norman Treigle. She later achieved success singing in Germany and Vienna before becoming a professor of voice at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Brown performed with NOOA in Un Ballo in Maschera (pictured above in 1981) and Eugene Onegin (1995).

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Opera soprano Marquita Lister performed two of her signature roles in Porgy and Bess and Salome with NOOA in 2002. Lister has also served as the national spokesperson for the Negro “Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation.

A large portion of the New Orleans Opera Association Archives are Artists’ Files. These include head shots, press kits, and correspondence, in many cases sent by artist management companies, for artists who performed with NOOA as well as many who didn’t. These files contain beautiful graphic materials for  some of the most famous opera singers of the 20th century, including many of the world’s leading black singers.

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LaVergne Monette

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Barbara Hendricks

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Simon Estes

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Barbara Conrad

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Vinson Cole

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Grace Bumbry

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Betty Allen

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Donnie Ray Albert

Many if not all of these singers faced intense racial prejudice in establishing the rights of black singers to perform with regional, national, and international opera companies. Alison Kinney’s “As the Met Abandons Blackface, a Look at the Legacy of African Americans in Opera” details struggles faced by black American opera singers as well as the use of white singers to portray black characters, as does Naomi Adele André’s Blackness in Opera (available for checkout from the Monroe Library).

The materials pictured above, and many more like them, are available for research in the New Orleans Opera Association Archives at Special Collections & Archives‘ Booth-Bricker Reading Room Monday – Friday from 9am-4:30pm.

Let’s celebrate Black History Month

Black History Month was designed to educate people on the pain and suffering throughout history that Blacks encountered to receive equal rights and freedom. Americans have recognized Black History annually ever since 1926 when it was first known as “Negro History Week” and then converted to “Black History Month.” Although Blacks have been part of our country’s history since the colonial times, it was not until the 20th century that they received a respectable honor in the history books.

On the heels of an historic election, African-Americans have overcome devious and cunning methods to prevent their voices from being heard:

Poll taxes

Literacy tests

“Grandfather” clauses

Suppressive election procedures

Black codes and enforced segregation

Bizarre gerrymandering

White-only primaries

Physical intimidation and violence

Restrictive eligibility requirements

Rewriting of state constitutions

I am privileged to come from a lineage filled with strength and courage, proud to stand tall in the midst of history and look forward to a future filled with promise and change.

If you want to know more about African Americans and their struggle for the right to vote, click here. If you want to know more about African Americans and their struggle for equality, click here.

By clicking the icon you will be lead to our full catalog.

~Sareeca

Southern Horrors and Other Writings by Ida B. Wells

Southern Horrors coverSouthern Horrors and Other Writings by Ida B. Wells

It’s hard to overstate the courage of Ida B. Wells. She was one of the loudest – and loneliest – voices against the barbaric practice of lynching throughout the American South during Reconstruction. As one of the only writers to undertake a systematic study of the practice, she uncovered grotesque facts (the practice of lynch mobs keeping body parts of the lynched as “souvenirs”), common lies (the most common incitement to a lynching being the allegation of impropriety or sexual aggression against a white woman), and what she saw as the root cause: the expansion of black sufferage, black economic power, and black social mobility.

Anti-lynching certainly wasn’t Ida Wells’ only cause, but it was the one for which she gained the most notoriety, both in the United States and in Europe. It was also one of the darkest chapters in American history, one in which her voice was often the only voice speaking for the thousands of innocent men and women who were tortured and killed. Her writing is urgent, impassioned, and absolutely necessary.

- Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer