Baton Rouge has a long history as the center of civil rights battles, on both statewide and national fronts. A.P. Tureaud, a New Orleans resident, was instrumental in bringing true integration to state colleges and universities. The Baton Rouge bus boycott in 1953 was the first such event in the country, and served as a model for the Montgomery Bus Boycott begun by Rosa Parks two years later. Below are some of the most prominent pieces of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s collection on Baton Rouge’s civil rights history.
- Journey for Justice: The A.P. Tureaud Story – This documentary by Rachel Emmanuel details A.P. Tureaud’s work as a member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New Orleans, including suits filed against the state to force equal funding to black and white schools in accordance with Plessy v. Ferguson. Later, when this became too expensive, he successfully sued to equalize pay for black and white teachers and to desegregate Louisiana State University and the Orleans Parish School District.
- Oral history with Pearl George – Pearl George, a local activist and civil rights leader, was instrumental in establishing the Eden Park Branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library system. She campaigned tirelessly to desegregate Baton Rouge lunch counters and integrate the pool at City Park, and served three terms on the Metro City Council, where she was the first African American woman elected as a representative.
- Signpost to Freedom: the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott – This documentary covers the strong grassroots African American community activism of Baton Rouge in the 1940s and 1950s, including the events leading up to the 1953 bus boycott in Baton Rouge. It goes on to examine how the boycott’s organizers, and the reaction of the citizens of Baton Rouge, contributed to civil rights organizations across the south, especially the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955.
- Our African American Legacy – EBRPL maintains a site of prominent African American community groups and a timeline of civil rights events in this city. You can visit the link to learn more about our community’s development, and how the organizations who got us here are still strengthening us today.
You can find more information about the history of the African American civil rights movement in Baton Rouge with the regularly updated Baton Rouge Civil Rights infoguide.