Title page for ETD etd-04122009-205155


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McKenzie, Kristina D
Author's Email Address kmcken1@lsu.edu
URN etd-04122009-205155
Title The Desegregation of New Orleans Public and Roman Catholic Schools in New Orleans, 1950-1962
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David H. Culbert Committee Chair
Alecia P. Long Committee Member
Gaines M. Foster Committee Member
Keywords
  • schools
  • desegregation
  • New Orleans
Date of Defense 2009-03-06
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
New Orleans has recently been called a “chocolate city” by its mayor. It is a curious choice of words, but resonates with anyone who knows anything about New Orleans, a city heavily populated by African Americans. The city is crime ridden and poor; consequently, New Orleans is ranked near the bottom in terms of education. Why does the city’s population remain uneducated? It would be presumptuous to suggest that there is only one reason; there are several. However, one of the most obvious reasons is the utter failure of desegregation in the city.

New Orleans has always experienced atypical race relations. Instances of slaves and masters cohabitating, or blacks and whites in the city living in each other’s neighborhoods and working with each other have been true of New Orleans for centuries. New Orleans also has the largest population of black Roman Catholics in the world. The fact that so many blacks were Catholic and that Louisiana is a southern state with a very large Catholic population inevitably raises one additional question: what was the Church’s moral and legal position on desegregation, segregation, racism, and other racial issues?

The public schools in New Orleans desegregated before the parochial schools. Why did this happen? The Archbishop failed to desegregate before the public schools; he did not silence racist laypersons in its ranks, nor did he control racist priests. The Church had a moral responsibility to support desegregation, yet Church support was limited. The Church failed in its moral obligation to New Orleans Catholics, both a product of uncertain local leadership, and a source of local African American disaffection from the Church. The results continue to be felt in New Orleans.

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