Louisiana unveils civil rights markers honoring the braveness of activists and the locations they organized and boycotted for change

“Courage Over Oppression” is the message the Louisiana Tourism Bureau is pushing for by installing historical markers to commemorate key locations that were vital to the civil rights movement across the state.

Similar to the US project of the same name, the first three markings are already in place on the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail.

The project began when Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser discovered that his state did not have a civil rights path.

From there, Glenda McKinley told CNN that she and her team had been approached by GMc + Co Strategic Communications to get the project off the ground, and they began talking to various communities across the state through outreach meetings.

“We traveled about 3,000 miles and held about 22 meetings across the state and really got to hear firsthand from the people in the community,” McKinley said.

“Some (of the stories) were oral reports, some were people who were actually involved in the movement, and it became very clear that we didn’t have to tell the story – the voices that were still here could tell the story.”

The project is two years in development, and McKinley said what they got from those meetings really drove the content for the trail forward.

“People talked about the incidents as if they happened yesterday,” McKinley said. “The way they could remember every detail – it was clearly a difficult time, but the pride, the courage, the determination – there were grown men who were able to articulate for the first time how this affected her Life impacted. ”

The historical significance of these places is indicated by a 6-foot-tall steel silhouette that resembles a protester holding a strike sign designed by McKinley’s son Ernest M. English and her art director Benjamin Clay. The markings are half-female and half-male silhouettes.

“All creative people had to be from the perspective of the people who were on the front lines,” English told CNN.

“At 4am (the design) I just came to – this is a legacy project for people who have been on the front lines … and it has to make those people proud.”

From the steel silhouette to the bright colors used on every display, the idea of ​​hope and courage is evident to anyone who visits the trail markers.

These three markers are just the beginning, and Louisiana citizens have the option to designate other locations. From there, a committee will review the proposals and decide if there is enough historical information for a marker, McKinley said.

Dooky Chases Restaurant

The first marker was placed outside Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans on Monday. The restaurant was founded in 1941 and founded by Emily and Dooky Chase Sr.

The small sandwich shop, which opened in 1939, soon became a popular bar and restaurant that, according to the restaurant’s website, housed a hangout for music and entertainment, civil rights and culture.

Thurgood Marshall and later freedom fighters like Rev. AL Davis, Rev. Avery Alexander, Virginia Durr, and Jerome Smith were regulars as they fought for civil rights in local courts and on the streets of the famous city.

National leaders such as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. joined these local leaders in strategy meetings and meal dialogue in the upstairs boardroom in the 1960s.

Old State Capitol Building

The second marker is in the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge in honor of the bus boycott. In 1953, over 14,000 black Baton Rouge residents participated in the country’s first bus boycott and inspired others, such as the famous boycott in Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of a bus.

All over the city, people went out of their way to help. Black businessman Horatio Thomas sold gasoline to boycott participants at cost, and a predominantly white radio station encouraged black residents to boycott and offered car pooling.

Little Union Baptist Church

The Little Union Baptist Church in Shreveport is the third location. Founded in 1892, the church was the last place Martin Luther King Jr. spoke publicly before he was assassinated in 1968.

In addition, Rev. CC McLain, who led the community from 1961, was an active leader in the community and another famous voice in the Louisiana civil rights movement. The church also acted as the hub for the NAACP and CORE meetings.

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