In this silent WSB newsfilm clip from New Orleans, Louisiana in November and December 1960, a newspaper advertisement urges community support for the Orleans Parish school board and white demonstrators protest the court-ordered desegregation of two elementary schools. Some images in the clip repeat and others are interspersed with scenes from other days.
The clip begins focusing on a folded newspaper sitting on a table next to an ashtray with a cigarette in it. Although the text of the paid advertisement is not legible, several headings in the document are, including "We appeal to the citizens of New Orleans," "Segregation of the races," "Since the 1954 decision," "Because many citizens," and "But we recognize." The advertisement, reprinted in the Times-Picayune December 14, 1960, recognizes that most citizens prefer segregated education, and that the Orleans Parish School Board and the Louisiana legislature have done all in their power to try and maintain segregated schools. The article goes on to assert that "we are called upon to abide by the action of our legally constituted courts." It urges "an immediate end to threats, defamation and resistance to those who administer our laws," and appeals for "an end to the street demonstrations," asking that "support be given to the city officials, the police, and the duly elected school board of the parish of Orleans." Over one hundred white businessmen signed the petition reprinted in the advertisement.
The next images come from the first days of court-ordered integration at William Frantz and McDonogh 19 schools in New Orleans. Some of the images repeat and are seen in different sequences. A white man, woman, and young girl stand on a sidewalk facing a corner as cars drive past. A group of demonstrators appear to yell as they wave their arms and picket signs while standing near parked cars; policemen on the other side of the cars watch the group. A policeman walks by the camera with a nightstick in his hand before the clip briefly returns to the newspaper advertisement. Then, the images of the people on the corner, the demonstrators, and the police are repeated. Later policemen lead demonstrators away. Another crowd fills a street corner and a white woman walks past men in hats and suits toward a building; the camera again focuses on the crowd and later a woman is seen leading a child out of William Frantz school. After showing the crowd again the camera returns to the man, woman, and girl seen earlier standing on the street corner. The man appears to kiss the girl on the cheek before grabbing the woman's hand and raising it in the air. White women demonstrators clap and appear to cheer.
After this, the clip jumps to McDonogh 19, the second New Orleans public school integrated November 14 under a court-ordered desegregation plan. Men in suits walk in front of the school, and a federal marshal in a suit with a light-colored arm band appears to wait near the doorway for someone walking up the stairs of the school. New Orleans police chief Joseph Giarrusso stands under a tree in front of McDonogh 19. Later, two white women walk through a group of people standing on the sidewalk; each of the women carries several books in her arms. After another view of the crowd, two more women carrying books walk through the crowd and across the street. The clip ends with another group of women and children crossing the street and walking through the crowd.
In 1956, federal judge J. Skelly Wright overturned New Orleans school segregation laws and ordered the Orleans Parish School Board to begin school desegregation. Legal maneuvers by the school board and the Louisiana legislature delayed desegregation until 1960, when Judge Wright ordered the school board to begin a grade-a-year plan beginning with the first grade that fall. On November 14, the first day of integration, white parents returned to the integrated schools, William Frantz and McDonogh 19, and removed their children and their children's school books. For the rest of the year, white demonstrators, upset by the court-ordered integration and the choice of two of the poorest elementary schools in the community, gathered at the two integrated schools every morning and afternoon to protest. A Citizens' Council-organized boycott of the schools kept all white students out of McDonogh 19 most of the year and was almost as successful at Frantz school. Legislators in Baton Rouge met in special session throughout November and December, passing legislation aimed at preventing or reversing the school desegregation. The legislature's legal tactics against integrated schools included laws dismissing the locally-elected Orleans Parish School Board, creating a replacement school board with members selected by the governor, freezing school board assets, and threatening to revoke the charter of banks who did business with the school board. These efforts caused a financial crisis in the school system, and many teachers, principals, and other school system employees suffered from paychecks delayed a month or longer. After a December 12 ruling by the United States Supreme Court against reversing integration or further delays, local businessmen and community leaders who had previously maintained a "wait-and-see" attitude about the "school crisis" began publicly supporting the school board and urging other community members to do the same.
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: Series of WSB-TV newsfilm clips of a paid newspaper advertisement urging community support for the Orleans Parish School Board and white demonstrators protesting court-ordered desegregation at McDonogh 19 and William Frantz elementary schools in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1960 November and December, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1046, 57:58/01:00:01, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.