Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Civil Rights Movement in the East Florida Parishes

When addressing the matters of Civil Rights, is it paramount that certain assumptions are inherent. "That assumption is that all men be created equal." With is this in mind, one must measure how important it was to leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., to advocate for people who were denied human and civil rights. Local civil right leaders such A.Z Young, Pat Morris, Rev. Willard Vernon, Kingsley Garrison, etc. 

Today we are still struggling with some high levels of poverty in many communities across the United States. According to The Washington Post, the long term unemployment rate has not been as high as it is now since World War II. 4 million Americans have been out of work for 27 weeks are longer.

In Tangiphaoa Parish there are few black owned businesses in the entire parish.  According to the Tangipahoa Parish QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau. African-American alone, 2013 (a) make up 32.4% population. The total number of firms in 2007,  African-American owned firms in 2007 15.9. The Median Household Income is $14.969.

On seven occasions, the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Tangipahoa Parish School Board along with other defendants, for having allegedly sponsored and promoted religion in teacher-led school activities.

Reflecting back on the civil rights movement in Tangipahoa Parish, my three brothers and I were retained in the first year of integration in Tangiphaoa Parish in 1969. My childhood best friend Doris Lloyd who was an A and B student was retained with many of our other classmates. Her father went to talked with the white principal at Natalbany Elementary School in 1969 to see why his daughter was retained. After her father talked with the principal concerning Doris being retained, she was placed in her right grade.

Smith Robertson Musuem
Jackson, Mississippi
I remember being screamed at, talked too in a degrading way by my first white teacher named Mrs. Dedrick at Amite Elementary. All of the black students was scared to death in her class. We were the "Ruby Bridges" in Amite, Louisiana. We did not get the protection of the U.S. Marshals, as kids, we had to learn how to cope with the mistreatment. 

 In 1967 black's march from Bogalusa throughout the Florida Parishes to the steps of the state capitol in Baton Rouge organized by A.Z. Young, leader of the Bogalusa Negro Voters League. The 106-mile  trek was twice the distance of the famed Selma to Montgomery, Ala., march of the same period. 

A group of 90 marchers began a 105 mile march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge to complain to Gov. John McKeithen of continued discrimination against African-Americans within the state. McKeithen's initial statement to the media regarding A.Z. Young's march was one of arrogant indifference: "Most of the stuff out of Bogalusa is hot air," said the Governor. At that point H. Rap Brown, new leader of the Student Nonviolent Committee Congress was slated to be the keynote speaker. Attempts to interview Brown were fruitless, on account of his standing policy not to speak with or acknowledge white reporters. When asked about the expected influence of Brown on the rally, McKeithen replied that "When I see chaos in our urban, Northern areas, it makes me prouder and prouder to be a farmer way down here in Louisiana.

Tangipahoa African-American Newspaper