Many people treat “equality” and “equity” as if they are synonymous.
Equality is the state of one thing being the same as the other; Equity is the state of having fairness and justice for all people.
The African American struggle has never been for CIVIL rights (equality), but for HUMAN rights (equity).
And Louisiana is the BIRTHPLACE of the HUMAN Rights Movement.
After all, it was the Comité des Citoyens who orchestrated Plessy v. Ferguson, the landmark case that eventually paved the way for the success of Brown v. the Board of Education.
Comité des Citoyens was also the precursor to the Niagara Movement, which would later serve as the foundation upon which the NAACP was built.
Louisiana definitely has had more than its share of precedent-setting cases and fearless trailblazers.
Alexander Pierre (A.P.) Tureaud was no exception.
Tureaud was a prominent civil rights attorney who worked tirelessly to end segregation in New Orleans.
And he succeeded.
During a book talk hosted by Southern University at Shreveport (SUSLA), Tureaud’s son, A.P. “Alex” Tureaud, Jr. discussed “A More Noble Cause: A.P. Tureaud and the Struggle for Civil Rights”, which he co-authored with Rachel Emmanuel, PhD, documentary filmmaker and Director of Communications for Southern University Law Center.
The book details Tureaud’s experiences as a family man and Black professional working in – while also trying to change – Jim Crow Louisiana.
Mr. Tureaud also shared with the audience his own experiences as the FIRST BLACK UNDERGRADUATE to enroll at Louisiana State University, a situation that came BEFORE – and was not at all unlike – James Meredith’s more widely known experience as the first African American student to enroll in the University of Mississippi.
Tureaud said that while he was a student at LSU (for all of 55 days) he was terrorized and intimidated, and had been subjected to “horrible, isolated, demeaning, frustrating” treatment. He recalled the math professor who refused to (literally) take his papers, and who also openly complained to the class of “not knowing how to teach him”, dorm mates who would leave the bathroom in the middle of showering whenever they saw him enter, and he also recalled what it felt like to be the only person in a dorm room designed to house three people, because no whites wanted to be in the same room with him.
Of his experience, Tureaud noted: “They [whites] haven’t forgiven us for Plessy v. Ferguson…they were determined not to have a Black undergraduate [at LSU].”
When the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the verdict that allowed the younger Tureaud’s entrance into LSU, Alex was forced to leave campus. Though his father vowed to continue the fight, (and eventually succeeded in desegregating Louisiana’s universities) Alex – having had enough of the “soul-numbing hostility” – decided enough was enough, and went on to enroll in Xavier University, earning a degree in education.
But, there’s more to the story.
Watch it, here: