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Preserving the signs of history: Collecting the legacy of our region’s Civil Rights Movement

Students at Princeton High School with their principal Walter H. Martin, possibly in its first year of integration. (2004.003.008 from the Walter H. Martin Collection at the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center)

The public is invited to attend the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center’s free event “Preserving the Signs of History – Collecting the Legacy of our Region’s Civil Rights Movement” on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 1:00 pm at the Historical Center (2206 Beckett St., Bossier City, LA – adjacent to Bossier Central Library.) The Historical Center has a great group of panelists and moderator lined up to discuss what local institutions with an historical mission or interest are doing and have yet to do to make sure the stories of the local Civil Rights movement aren’t lost to posterity. The Civil Rights movement is a critical piece of our region’s history so it is urgent that we don’t miss the opportunity to collect the stories, photographs, papers and memoirs of our elders.

The moderator is Dr. Michael Hicks, Assistant Professor of Education, Coordinator of Male Student Initiatives at Jarvis Christian College and Executive Director of the North Louisiana Civil Rights Coalition

Panelists and the institutions they are representing are:

  • Dr. Laura McLemore: Noel Memorial Library Archives and Special Collections, LSU-Shreveport
  • Ashley Hazelton: Oral History Project at R.W. Norton Art Gallery
  • Deborah Allen: North Louisiana Civil Rights Coalition 
  • Brian McNew: McNew Architecture, North Louisiana Civil Rights Museum project
  • Pam Carlisle: Bossier Parish Library Historical Center
  • Dr. Orella Brazile: Black Ethnic Archives at Southern University – Shreveport

This Historical Center event was inspired when the History and Outreach Specialist was hoping to do an oral history interview of the local lawyer, Jesse Stone, who represented the plaintiffs in the 1964 Bossier school integration case Ura Lemon et al. V. Bossier Parish School Board, but found out he passed.  She learned the same when considering asking William Hines, who broke the color line in the Shreveport Police Department and moved to Bossier in retirement, to be a speaker.

In addition, this particular case and its appeals and its predecessor case United States v. Bossier Parish School Board represented ground-breaking legal milestones of not just state and regional significance but of national significance. In 2006 the History and Outreach Specialist corresponded with the late Shreveport and regional historian Eric Brock about Bossier’s school integration cases. Mr. Brock was emphatic about their significance and the need for commemoration.

The case involved the family of Ura Lemon and other African-American Air Force families who were assigned to Barksdale, lived on base and unsuccessfully tried to enroll their children in a ‘white’ school in Bossier City. The decision rendered ordered a graduated integration plan of Bossier schools. Following subsequent appeals and rulings, Bossier Parish schools were ultimately desegregated as a system in the 1969-1970 school year. To learn in much greater detail the legal journey to Bossier Parish school desegregation, please visit or contact us at the Historical Center.   

Pam Carlisle is the History and Outreach Specialist for the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.