In this WSB newsfilm clip from November 14, 1960, a reporter interviews Orleans Parish School Board president Lloyd Rittiner and superintendent of schools Dr. James Redmond about the first day of court-ordered school integration in New Orleans, Louisiana. The clip's audio may be difficult to hear at times.
The clip begins with the reporter, Lloyd Rittiner, and Dr. James Redmond standing in front of a wall-mounted map of the city of New Orleans. The reporter asks school board president Rittiner if the first day of integrated classes in New Orleans public school went well. Rittiner reports that he is pleased that "the people of Orleans Parish have accepted a difficult situation very admirably." Continuing, Rittiner expresses his belief that while some anti-integration demonstrations may continue, "the worst is over." The reporter next turns to Dr. James Redmond and asks him about legislation passed by the Louisiana state legislature the day before, Sunday, November 13, seeking to forcibly prevent desegregation by firing Dr. Redmond and the school board's lawyer, Sam Rosenberg. Dr. Redmond declares that he still works for the Orleans Parish School Board. Asked if there have been reports on the day's events from teachers or principals, Dr. Redmond indicates that the school board wanted to let the teachers and principals concentrate on their work and did not ask them for reports. After a break in the clip, the reporter asks Rittiner if he expects more interference from the state legislature. Rittiner replies that he anticipates that any legislation trying to stop school desegregation will be overturned by federal courts.
In 1956, federal judge J. Skelly Wright overturned New Orleans school segregation laws and ordered the Orleans Parish School Board to submit desegregation plans. In response to this ruling and to the 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the Louisiana state legislature passed several laws seeking to prevent school integration in the state. Following several years of legal maneuvers, Judge Wright ordered the Orleans Parish School Board to begin a grade-a-year integration plan in the fall of 1960. Louisiana legislators met in several special sessions that fall, and on November 6 and November 13, passed resolutions to forcibly prevent desegregation by making it a crime for anyone to carry out school integration. The legislature also fired both Orleans Parish superintendent of schools Dr. James Redmond and school board attorney Sam Rosenberg. They then replaced the school board with legislators committed to maintaining segregation. After each of these attempts, Judge Wright declared the legislature's actions unconstitutional and ordered the Orleans Parish elected officials to continue with desegregation. On November 14, 1960, four African American first-grade girls integrated two New Orleans schools, William Frantz and McDonogh 19 elementary schools, both in the poor Ninth Ward of the city. Although the names of the desegregated schools were not published, segregationist demonstrators, tipped off by police cars surrounding the schools, gathered at each location to taunt and shout at the African American girls and their federal marshals escorts. The segregationist demonstrators, nicknamed the "cheerleaders" by the press, kept morning and afternoon vigils at the schools the rest of the school year. Segregationist protesters also demonstrated in the city of New Orleans the following two days, Tuesday, November 15 and Wednesday, November 16. Demonstrations both days were larger and more violent than the day before, culminating with the November 16 demonstrations that were eventually broken up with fire hoses and a strong police presence. White parents pulled their children out of Frantz and McDonogh 19 schools, many enrolling their children in newly-opened private schools or in all-white schools in neighboring St. Bernard Parish. However, nearly three-hundred white children in the area did not attend school that year.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Orleans Parish superintendent of schools Dr. James Redmond and school board president Lloyd Rittiner speaking to a reporter following the first day of court-ordered school desegregation, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1960 November 14, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0766, 50:13/51:27, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.