In this WSB newsfilm clip from December 1960, white demonstrators protest the court-ordered integration of William Frantz Public School, white parents ignore a boycott and take their daughters to school, and other white parents organize an alternative, segregated school for students from Frantz and McDonogh 19 schools in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The clip begins with white demonstrators standing outside of the William Frantz public school protesting its November 14 integration. The men and women are dressed in warm clothes; many wear hats, scarves, and heavy jackets. A white woman and her daughter, Daisy and Yolanda Gabrielle, walk up the sidewalk towards Frantz school. Next, two men are seen walking with a child between them. The men are Methodist minister Lloyd A. Foreman, who is taking his daughter Pamela Lynn to school, and Catholic priest Jerome A. Drolet. After the November 14 integration of William Frantz and McDonogh 19 schools, the local White Citizens Council organized a boycott of the schools. Most parents took their children out of the schools and either organized private schools or did not send their children to school that year. Two families, the Gabrielles and the Foremans, ignored the boycott and continued to walk through crowds of shouting demonstrators to take their daughters to school. Community pressure caused both families to leave New Orleans by December 14.
Next, the clip briefly shows the Louisiana state capitol building in Baton Rouge and men in a legislative chamber talking to one another over the dais. When the clip returns to the Frantz school in New Orleans, some of the images from the beginning of the clip are repeated. After the repeating images, a reporter interviews white women standing in the crowd in front of Frantz school. Two women enthusiastically commit to "keep fighting" against integration. Another woman indicates her desire to maintain segregated schools regardless of federal court decisions. Threatened by the court-ordered school desegregation scheduled to begin November 14, the Louisiana state legislature had passed several series of laws to block integration. On November 30, a three-judge federal court ruled against the legislature's laws, refused to suspend desegregation, and enjoined more than seven hundred state and local officials, including all the members of the state legislature and Governor Jimmy H. Davis from further intervention in school integration. According to some accounts, the ruling was the thirty-seventh time the federal courts had denied requests for segregated classes.
After the women's comments, police and other cars drive down the street while a crowd of white protesters stand on the sidewalk. At times, the image is washed out and not clear. At one point, a car drives past with a Confederate battle flag on the antenna. Following the washed-out clip section, policemen stand at the bottom of the stairs in front of McDonogh 19 school, the other school integrated by African American first grade students November 14. Then, a white man in a coat and hat speaks to an off-screen reporter. Asked about second and third grade students from Frantz and McDonogh schools, the man, Armand Duvio, a plumber who headed the Frantz-McDonogh Private Cooperative, indicates there will be alternate segregated facilities for every white student from the two integrated schools, either in the private school or in the schools in neighboring St. Bernard Parish. Duvio, backed by the White Citizens Council and other local segregationists, led an effort to organize a private cooperative school for whites in neighboring St. Bernard Parish. Even with the cooperative school and the option of attending schools in the still-segregated St. Bernard Parish, nearly three hundred white children did not attend school following the November 14 desegregation.
The clip then focuses on a block-style housing building that has white children and a full clothesline. Inside, James, Daisy, and Yolanda Gabrielle sit on chairs and a couch. James Gabrielle speaks to the camera before his comments are recorded. When he speaks, he indicates that he was forced out of his job and is unable to find another because of community dissapproval. He confirms that although the family may have to leave Louisiana, he feels he is doing the right thing. After nearly a month of walking through shouting crowds of angry white demonstrators, losing a job, and receiving threatening phone calls and letters, the Gabrielles and their six children left Louisiana and moved to Rhode Island. The family was so concerned for their safety that they did not travel together as they left the state, choosing to send half of the family by car and half by train.
Later, white men direct a bus with the sign "Free private bus" as it pulls up to a large building that looks like an airplane hangar. Inside the building, white men walk around. Outside, white children get off the bus and walk past adults standing nearby. A white man steps on the bus as it pulls away. On December 1, 1960, Armand Duvio and other white parents organizing alternative education signed leases on two buildings (including a former mortar rebuilding plan) to be converted into private schools. They announced plans for volunteer workers, mostly union men, to prepare the buildings on the weekend. News reports also indicated the state planned to provide text books, and the school would start holding classes the following week. The school was dubbed Arabi Elementary Annex, named for a nearby school in St. Bernard Parish, and was eventually absorbed into the St. Bernard school system.
The clip ends back in front of the Frantz school. People get out of cars parked near a police officer and walk down the sidewalk. Another car has a sign on its side, "Free coffee for all white mothers." White women fill cups from coffee pots sitting on the car's tailgate and groups of white men and women stand around, some with cups in their hands. Finally, a white couple stands on a street corner.
In 1956, Federal judge J. Skelly Wright overturned New Orleans' school segregation laws. Orleans Parish School Board officials and the Louisiana state legislature fought integration for several years until 1960, when school board officials agreed to Judge Wright's grade-a-year integration plan. The plan desegregated the first grade in November 1960. During consultations with leaders from other Southern communities that had integrated their schools under court orders, the Orleans Parish School Board was discouraged from desegregating schools in poor neighborhoods first. The school board ignored this advice and choose to integrate two schools in the poor Ninth Ward of New Orleans, William Frantz and McDonogh 19. While the school board did not reveal the chosen schools or the names of the four African American girls selected to integrate the schools, a large police presence at the schools tipped off white demonstrators, who gathered and shouted at the students and their federal marshals escorts. Groups gathered every morning and afternoon for the rest of the year to yell and throw things at both the African American students and the few white parents who tried to send their children to Frantz school. Among those who helped establish the private white schools were Louisiana state legislators who each contributed fifty dollars from their salaries to support the efforts to continue segregation. By December 1, nearly five hundred white students from Frantz and McDonogh had enrolled in the still-segregated St. Bernard Parish schools. However, even with the opportunities to attend the private school or the schools in St. Bernard Parish, nearly 300 children did not receive a formal education that school 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 the William Frantz and McDonogh elementary schools after court-ordered desegregation, white demonstrators protesting integration, and a segregated cooperative school in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1960 December, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0938, 36:43/39:52, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.