NEW ORLEANS - On Saturday, November 14, the 60th Anniversary of Desegregation, the City of New Orleans will honor civil rights pioneers, The New Orleans Four - Leona Tate, Ruby Bridges, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne in recognition of their courageous and selfless dedication to equal educational opportunity for children of color. All four of the Civil Rights Pioneers have been invited to receive the city's highest honor. The ceremony will celebrate the Pioneers in song, citations, and proclamations, with Mayor LaToya Cantrell presenting them with the key to the city. The event will begin at 10:30 am in front of Gallier Hall, located at 545 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans celebrated retired news anchor Norman Robinson will be the Honorable Master of Ceremony. Scheduled to speak and present honors will be Madam Mayor LaToya Cantrell, City Councilwoman Nguyen and City Councilmembers of New Orleans, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, Ronald Coleman, NAACP President New Orleans Branch, Alanah Odoms Hebert Executive Director ACLU Louisiana, and the United States of America Director of the U.S. Marshals Services, Donald W. Washington will be the keynote speaker. Pastor Fred Luther of Franklin Ave. Baptist Church and Bishop Designate Tyrone G. Jefferson Jr. of the Abundant Life Tabernacle will be the distinguished clergy to lead attendees in opening and closing prayer.
"District E in the Lower Ninth Ward is where this integral black history took place," said District "E" Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen. "With the power vested in me, I felt it was my honorable duty to ensure that these powerful civil rights pioneers were celebrated with high honors on the 60th Anniversary of Desegregation. All four of them walked so I could run to become the first Asian American Immigrant to be elected to the City Council of the City of New Orleans."
Officials will highlight New Orleans' first Civil Rights Interpretive Center at the integration site, the McDonogh 19 Elementary School, now owned by the Leona Tate Foundation for Change in partnership with Alembic Community Developers. The building will be renamed the Tate Etienne & Prevost (TEP) Interpretive Center and is on schedule to open in Spring 2021.
"As the first female Mayor of the City of New Orleans in its 300-year history, I am honored to present Leona Tate, Ruby Bridges, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne the key to the City of New Orleans. Sixty years ago, these women had the courage and tenacity to walk up eighteen crucial steps to desegregate McDonogh 19," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. "This anniversary comes at such a pivotal time in our nation as we use our voices and collective power to fight back against racism and injustice, and when you're intentional about moving forward, you have to be rooted and grounded in where you come from."
"The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) New Orleans branch is the first branch in the Deep South. When the people of New Orleans heard about the founding of the NAACP in New York in 1909, they began doing the work to confront segregated spaces to fight for our Civil Rights. In July 1915, our branch was officially founded," said Ronald Coleman, President of NAACP New Orleans Branch. "The New Orleans Four were our little fearless soldier girls, they brought it home for us. We are committed to their legacy because they deserve it. We are going to keep up the fight, because when we fight, we win."
The event is produced by Nola Event Planners and Fish Pot Studios. It will not be open to the general public due to the City of New Orleans' Phase 3.3 COVID-19 mandates with guidelines and restrictions of only 100 guests indoors and 150 guests outdoors. Noire T.V. (Global Black TV) will be providing live stream coverage on YouTube Live: NoireTVAfrica1 Channel, and on Instagram IGTV: @NoireTVNetwork. Re-Broadcast and post-event coverage will air on Noire T.V. (Verizon FiOS channel #269 and Optimum Channel 1100).
The event is made possible by U.S. Bank, PRG Global, Corporate Sound and Lighting, Mix by Rich, the Office of City Councilwoman Nguyen, the City of New Orleans Department of Cultural Economy, and the Louisiana Office of Tourism.