The MTM Juneteenth Celebration held on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Lafayette, LA, was a huge success! Many people attended the event to commemorate the end of slavery and support the ongoing struggle against racism.
Lafayette in Black and White; or A Tale of Two Cities: An Integrated History of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 1770-1970
Dr. Rick Swanson, Professor of Political Science at UL Lafayette, presents his talk, Lafayette in Black and White; or A Tale of Two Cities: An Integrated History of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 1770-1970. Drawing upon a plentitude of archival evidence from the region, Dr. Swanson debunks many myths about slavery and racism in Acadiana. His research establishes a solid foundation for truth and reconciliation in the region.
But somehow the narratives we’re taught often grossly misrepresent the history of black people in America. After all, a true and full history of the United States would require a reckoning of a not-so-great country, one that’s mired in hate and fear.
The history of the civil rights movement is no different.
In the Spring of 1944, the town of New Iberia, Louisiana, threatened, beat, and expelled key leaders of the town’s black community – leaders who had recently formed a new NAACP branch and were in danger of getting, by some accounts, the “upper hand.” Among the expelled were the town’s only black physicians, and their removal left the town without a black doctor – or strong black community leadership – until the Civil Rights Movement.
A weekend of remembrance and storytelling was organized by Dr. Phoebe Hayes, founder of the Iberia African American Historical Society and funded by a 2019 Rebirth Grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Louisiana’s Poet Laureate, John Warner Smith, wrote a poem “Sermon of the Dreamers,” in memory of the expelled doctors, and debuted it live at the event. Louisiana civil rights historian Adam Fairclough spoke and Louisiana artist Paul Shexnayder unveiled a painting he created for the commemoration. And more than a dozen descendants of the expelled leaders told stories and shared memories about their ancestors.
Professor Barry Jean Ancelet presents “No Gains without Pains, Part 1. An Oral History Project of the Center for Louisiana Studies.” View here (MTM Youtube site).
In collaboration with MTM LEARNING, Prof. Ancelet here introduces, in context, segments of audio interviews with seven pioneering Lafayette and Louisiana actitivists of the 1930s through the 1960s. The voices of women and men who lived the struggle and heartily fought racial injustice.
The guest speaker (and CLS interview subject) is Ms. Myrtle Cain, the first black student to enter segregated Crowley High School (1967). Ms. Cain graduated from USL and returned to Crowley High to teach for 37 years. Her stories of integration and teaching are remarkable. Together again, Myrtle Cain and Barry Ancelet open up about interview experiences and life lessons they learned during long careers in education.
This specific CLS interview series consists of over 18 hours of material recorded for the Center for Louisiana Studies by Prof. Ancelet during the later 1970’s. It rigorously documents the experiences of many important Louisiana Civil Rights Era figures… their own stories. This CLS series is considered PRIMARY SOURCE MATERIAL for Louisiana and U.S. history teachers.
Original photography during the interviews was performed by Mr. Elemore Morgan Jr, the distinguished Louisiana artist.
This lecture was delivered at the Lafayette Downtown Public Library on Sept 17th, 2019.
“Lafayette in Black and White; or A Tale of Two Cities: An Integrated History of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 1770 – 1970”. This is Prof. Rick Swanson’s latest work, hosted by MTM at the Lafayette Downtown Public Library on May 9th, 2019. (Thanks to AOC Community Media and Ed Bowie.) View here