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Holding onto History: Leona Tate creates New Orleans' first civil rights museum


Leona Tate. Photo by Josh Hailey Studio.

Education has always been at the heart of Leona Tate’s life.


Born in 1954 in the Lower 9th Ward, Tate took the first steps toward finally breaking the back of school segregation in New Orleans when she, along with Tessie Prevost and Gail Etienne, walked past angry white protesters and through the doors of McDonogh 19 Elementary School on Nov. 14, 1960, to become the first Black students at the school. At the same time, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges also was walking into the all-white William Frantz Elementary School.


Looking back now, Tate says she is grateful she can never say she was afraid of going to school because at 6 years old, she didn't fully understand what was happening. 


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