The Leona Tate Foundation for Change’s (LTFC) mission is
To promote, improve and enhance racial equality through various avenues of education.
To empower and enrich our communities from a spiritual, multicultural, economical, historical and social perspective.
“Remembering the past while looking towards the future”
LTFC is dedicated to preserving, interpreting and disseminating the story of the Civil Rights struggle for equal education in New Orleans, by sharing the story of the three African-American girls who integrated McDonogh #19 in 1960.
LTFC seeks to reach people of all ages and ethnicities, with a special emphasis on educating young people about these struggles and encouraging their participation in ongoing efforts to build a more just society. Leona Tate is frequently invited to schools and universities to share her story, and to inspire the next generation by acquainting them with the courage of ordinary people in the struggle for equality.
The lead project of the foundation is the transition of the Historic McDonogh 19 School into the Tate Etienne and Prevost Center, a renovated mixed-use facility features education and exhibition space dedicated to the history of New Orleans Public School Desegregation, Civil Rights, and restorative justice. The project goals include:
Preserve the building as a memorial site to the courage of three African American girls and their families in the fight for equal rights and equal education.
Create a permanent exhibition that will attract, engage, and educate local, national and international visitors in the history of the civil rights struggle for equal education in New Orleans.
Develop educational programs that address the needs of the community.
Stimulate the depressed economy of the Lower Ninth Ward and serve as a strong community anchor to enhance economic vitality.
Leona Tate played a crucial early role in the Civil Rights Movement, becoming one of the first African Americans to attend a formerly white-only school in Louisiana.
In 2009, she created the Leona Tate Foundation for Change (LTFC) to continue educating the public, in particular young people, on the lessons of Civil Rights and minorities’ struggle for equality.
On November 14, 1960, six years after separate black and white schools were ruled unconstitutional in Brown vs Board of Education, Leona Tate, Gail Etienne and Tessie Prevost, only 6 years old, were escorted by Federal Marshals through a crowd of protesters to attend the McDonogh #19 Public School.
The school building, located at 5909 St Claude Avenue in the historic Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana, still stands and serves as a testament to the role New Orleans has played in the American Civil Rights movement. Closed in 2004 and damaged one year later
by Hurricane Katrina, the building sat vacant until 2020. Leona Tate worked for many years to reopen the school as a monument to the vital history it represents.
In January 2009, the United States inaugurated its first African American president, creating a powerful symbol of progress in the long struggle for African American equality. A few months after this event, the Leona Tate Foundation for Change, Inc was born on the principle that in order to achieve harmony among humankind, every person should be afforded comparable opportunities and exposures. A component essential to implementing this principle is providing access to equal educational opportunities for greater New Orleans area youth.
The Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum
LTFC has relocated the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum, a community-based facility that engaged 18,000 visitors annually prior to the pandemic, to the TEP Center. Through the TEP Interpretive Center, LTFC will significantly expand its operations, with a target of 35,000 annual visitors including approximately 20,000 K-12 student visitors and approximately 250 youth served through summer camps and after school programs.
Board of Directors
Founder/Executive Director/Corporate Officer
Dr. Caroline Heldman
Chairperson; Executive Director of The Representation Project and Chair of the Critical Theory and Social Justice department at Occidental College in Los Angeles
Secretary; Operations/Governance and Programming/Education Committees; Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association
Rev. Willie Calhoun Jr.
Board Member; Operations/Governance and LTFC Fund Committees; Founder of Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Association
Board Member; Programming/Education Committee
Attorney, Army Corps of Engineers
Board Member; Programming/Education Committee
Board Member; Operations/Governance and LTFC Fund Committees; CEO of Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development
Ti Adelaide Martin
Board Member; Co-Proprietor of Commander’s Palace; author
Board Member; Operations/Governance Committee Financial Manager
Board Member; Operations/Governance and LTFC Fund Committee; Holy Cross Neighborhood Association
Dr. Brad Philipson
Treasurer; Operations/Governance and Programming/Education Committees; Jewish Community Day School
Sybil K. Reed
Board Member, Jefferson Parish Government, Senior Citizens' Services Coordinator
Board Member, LTFC Fund and Programming/Education Committees; Author, Historian & Founder/Director of Hidden Histories