Black History in Louisiana: Part II
By Joy Holden
This article is an extenuation of "Black History in Louisiana: Part I." To read the original article, click here.
Marie Justine Cirnaire Couvent
In 1832, the illiterate former slave and also slave owner, saw the need for a free school for black children. She left her property in the New Orleans Faubourg Marigny neighborhood to be used for the operation of a school for black orphans. Although Couvent died in 1838, other leading Free People of Color established the Institution Catholique des Orphelins Indigents in 1847, opening the door for education among the African American population.
Henriette Delille and Juliette Gaudin
These two Free Women of Color founded Sisters of the Holy Family, the second religious order for free women of color in the United States. Approved by the archbishop in 1842, the order’s mission was the education of free and enslaved African Americans, continuing the vision of Marie Couvent. You can visit the small chapel at the St. Louis Cathedral dedicated to Sister Henriette Delille.
Rillieux, a Free Person of Color in New Orleans, is considered to be one of the earliest chemical engineers. He revolutionized sugar processing in 1843 with his invention of the multiple effect evaporator under vacuum. His invention is recognized as the best method for being more fuel-efficient than other industrial evaporation methods.
Madame C.J. Walker
Born Sarah Breedlove in Delta, LA in 1867, she became a self-made beauty millionaire, and the Hermione Museum still honors her today.
P. B. S. Pinchback
The first African American Governor in the United States, Pinchback governed the state from 1872-73 during the Reconstruction era.
The Comité des Citoyens, a group of New Orleanians created for equality in the city, reacted to the new law of segregated railroad cars with a calculated course of action. Homer Plessy, a man of one-eighth African descent, was chosen to board a white railroad car in 1892 in direct defiance of the law on Press Street. His group protested his arrest as a violation of his rights under the 13th and 14th amendments in the case of Homer Adolph Plessy v. the State of Louisiana, but they lost. They appealed the case to the State Supreme Court and to the United States Supreme Court. The result of their case was the landmark decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson that ruled that separate institutions were equal, which cemented the segregation laws of the South. This ruling would not be overturned until 1954.
Ms. Hunter is a world-renowned folk artist and painted the life around her at Melrose Plantation. Although not famous in her own life, she became posthumously celebrated as one of the most prominent African American female painters in the country.
Coach Eddie G. Robinson
For 57 seasons, he fielded competitive football teams to earn an unprecedented career of 408 college football victories to set a NCAA record for Division I wins at the historically black college Grambling. He is the example of commitment, longevity, and excellence.
Paul “Tank” Younger
The first athlete from a historically black college, Louisiana’s very own Grambling University, to play in the National Football League, he led the Los Angeles Rams to the NFL Championship in 1951.
Ernest “Dutch” Morial
Morial was a pioneer in several arenas during his life. He was the first African American to graduate from LSU Law School, the first African American to win appointment to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisiana, the first African American to serve in the legislature since the Reconstruction era, and in 1978, he became the first black mayor of New Orleans.
Former Grambling quarterback and the first African American to quarterback a team in the NFL Super Bowl. And of course, he won!