In this WSB newsfilm clip from 1960 Orleans Parish School Board president Lloyd Rittiner explains why the majority of the school board has agreed to the comply with court-ordered school integration, and school board member Emile Wagner presents his opposition to desegregation in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The clip begins with school board president Lloyd Rittiner standing in front of an unnamed school building, speaking to a reporter. Rittiner shares his belief, and that of three other school board members that "it is better to have a public school system, even integrated, than to have no educational system at all." Next, school board member Emile Wagner, the one member who refused to agree to the court-ordered school integration, emphasizes his belief that students would be best educated under a segregated system.
In 1956, federal judge J. Skelly Wright overturned New Orleans school segregation laws and ordered the Orleans Parish School Board to submit plans for school integration. In response to this ruling, and to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the Louisiana State legislature passed several laws seeking to prevent any school integration in the state. After several years of delay, Judge Wright ordered the school board to present a desegregation plan by May 1960. When the board refused to comply, Judge Wright ordered New Orleans schools to begin a grade-a-year desegregation plan, beginning that fall with the first grade. On August 29, 1960, Lloyd Rittiner and the school board, minus the protesting Emile Wagner, met with Judge Wright to discuss the integration plan. Two schools, William Frantz Public School and McDonogh 19, both in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, were integrated by four African American first-grade girls on November 14, 1960. In response, white parents boycotted the integrated schools and either transferred their children from the two schools into schools in neighboring St. Bernard Parish, both Parish schools and alternative private schools, or kept their students out of school for the year. Nearly three hundred students missed the 1960 to 1961 school year 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.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Orleans Parish School Board president Lloyd Rittiner and member Emile Wagner speaking about court-ordered school desegregation in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1960, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0796, 6:07/06:50, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.