Reporter: Moore, Ray, 1922-.
In this compilation WSB newsfilm clip from December 1960, students in an interracial classroom sit at desks; reporter Ray Moore interviews Armand Duvio about private education for white students and later speaks to Louise Tate, the mother of an African American student sent to a previously all-white school; an unidentified reporter talks about the role of the Louisiana state legislature in school desegregation; and Ray Moore records commentary on the court-ordered school integration in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The clip begins by showing an interracial group of students in an unidentified classroom. The students sit at desks with their hands folded while they look at the camera. In the back of the room, an open book sits on a table with its pages blowing in the breeze. This clip appears to come from an area other than New Orleans. In New Orleans, only the first grade in two schools desegregated in 1960. However, after the schools integrated, the school board reclassified the two schools as "girl only" schools.
Next, WSB-TV reporter Ray Moore interviews Armand Duvio, a New Orleans plumber with a central role in arranging private education for white students from the desegregated William Frantz and McDonogh 19 elementary schools. Duvio explains that since the courts will not reverse the order to integrate schools, parents who want segregated education have to provide alternatives for their children. He indicates that he is upset with the school integration partly because of the selection of poor schools and partly because those enforcing integration do not send their children to integrated schools. Duvio says he has no problem with parents who choose to send their children to the integrated schools as long as they are not paid to do so. His comment refers to Daisy Gabrielle and Reverend Lloyd Foreman, two white parents who ignored the school boycott and sent their daughters to William Frantz elementary school. He goes on to praise the alternative school organized by white parents with the help of the Citizens' Council and declares that it is better than the public schools in New Orleans. Duvio, who had been actively involved with parent-supported programs at Frantz school before the court-ordered integration, was instrumental in helping set up the Arabi Elementary Annex. With the aid of the White Citizens' Council, white parents from Frantz and McDonough 19 schools set up and ran the segregated, cooperative school. The school opened December 7 in a former automobile assembly plant and housed several hundred first-, second-, and third-grade students. It was later absorbed into the St. Bernard school system which also provided education for the fourth- through sixth-grade students from the integrated schools.
After a break in the clip, Moore interviews Louise Tate, mother of Leona Tate, one of the three African American girls who integrated McDonogh 19 elementary school on November 14. Mrs. Tate sits with a young boy on her lap. The recorded interview begins with Moore asking Tate what she thinks will happen during the school integration crisis, as the media called it. Tate replies that she does not know what the outcome will be. Asked when she began thinking of Leona attending an integrated school, Tate reports that after they filled in the application and Leona passed the test, the family began considering the idea. She explains that she saw information about the application in the newspaper, and that she thinks Leona will get a better education at McDonogh 19 than in the school for African Americans she had attended before. She also indicates that before submitting the application, she did not know A. P. Tureaud, one of the African American lawyers involved in the school desegregation lawsuit. Tate also reports that she has not received any threats as a result of her daughter integrating the elementary school.
The clip breaks again and then focuses on several white men sitting in a news office. An unidentified reporter speaks about the Louisiana state legislature which held several special sessions about the court-ordered desegregation in the fall of 1960. The reporter explains that while most legislators do not speak during the floor debate, nearly all the legislators vote for total segregation. Those who do speak denounce the federal courts, the mayor and police force of New Orleans, and the federal marshals protecting the African American students. One legislator "urged a lynch party for what he called 'integrationist white parents,'" a comment the reporter suggests was in poor taste but was not meant to be taken literally. As a whole, the legislature has asked parents to boycott integrated schools and to demonstrate peacefully. The reporter is unsure whether these legislative promptings have encouraged some of the "very minor incidents of violence" experienced in New Orleans. He is also unsure if the legislature will eventually change its attitude, even though many recognize the choice will eventually be between open, integrated schools or closed schools, with the option for private education. Legislators, he continues, feel responsible to the people they represent, who want them to fight for segregated education. After another break in the clip, the camera shows more images of the news office and Ray Moore speaking to others there.
After another clip break, outtakes show Ray Moore preparing commentary on school integration in New Orleans as he stands on a boat in the Mississippi River. Because New Orleans was ordered to integrate the year before Atlanta schools, WSB-TV covered the integration closely in order to inform and prepare the community for the scheduled integration.
In 1956, federal judge J. Skelly Wright, responding to a lawsuit brought by African American lawyers A. P. Tureaud, Daniel Byrd with the help of Thurgood Marshall, overturned New Orleans school segregation laws. After several years of resistance by the Orleans Parish school board and the Louisiana state legislature, Wright ordered the board to begin desegregating the first grade in the fall of 1960. The state legislature continued its fight against integration even beyond the first day of integrated school, November 14, 1960. Legislators passed laws removing the school board and attempted to interpose their authority between the federal courts and New Orleans. Federal judges continually thwarted these legislative attempts by overturning the legislation and issuing injunctions banning the legislature, the governor, and other state officials from interfering with the schools. The majority of the school board recognized the inevitability of the court-ordered integration and began preparing for integration by implementing a pupil-placement plan and seeking applicants willing to transfer to white schools in the middle of the school year. From the 135 applications received, the board chose four African American girls to integrate two elementary schools, William Frantz and McDonogh 19. Both schools were located in the poor Ninth Ward of the city. Officials from Southern communities that had already begun desegregation warned the Orleans Parish school board against desegregating poor schools first. The school board ignored this advice. White parents, angered by the integration and the school selection protested outside the schools every morning and afternoon, boycotted the schools, and refused to send their children to Frantz or McDonogh 19. Although many of the one-thousand white students affected enrolled in the St. Bernard Parish schools or the private cooperative schools, an estimated three hundred students 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.
|Rights and Usage:|
Cite as: Series of WSB-TV newsfilm clips of an interracial classroom, interviews with Armand Duvio and Louise Tate, a reporter speaking about the influence of the Louisiana legislature, and outtakes from commentary on the school integration crisis in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1960 December, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1046, 46:20/57:56, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.