In this silent WSB newsfilm clip, possibly from June 5, 1962, three African American women with four African American children appear to register for classes in previously all-white Catholic elementary schools in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The clip begins with three African American women walking with the four African American children down a sidewalk and up the stairs of a school, apparently called Lafayette School. The African American children are dressed in all-white. Inside the building, a white teacher hands cards to the mothers as they enter a room. A chalkboard behind the teacher has "Tuesday, June" written on it; the rest of the writing on the chalkboard is obscured. The African American mothers appear to speak to a white woman sitting at a desk. The camera focuses on the three African American boys and the African American girl as they wait for their parents. The clip ends with the children and their mothers walking down the steps of the school.
Although federal judge J. Skelly Wright ruled New Orleans school desegregation laws unconstitutional in 1956, legal maneuvering by the Louisiana State Legislature prevented the public schools in New Orleans from integrating until ordered by federal courts in November 1960. During this time, leaders of the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, especially Archbishop Joseph Rummel, indicated their support of integrated education but also announced that "certain difficulties" made immediate school desegregation impossible. The New Orleans Archdiocese was home to the largest group of African American Catholics in the United States but also faced stiff opposition to integration from white Catholics, including Plaquemine Parish boss Leander Perez and Orleans Parish School Board member Emile Wagner. On March 27, 1962, the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced plans to integrate kindergarten through the eighth grade that fall. On September 4, 1962, the first day of classes that fall for the Catholic schools, between 150 and 200 students integrated thirty-two parochial schools in New Orleans.
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.