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TEP Center:

The History & Future of the McDonogh #19 School Building

The Leona Tate Foundation for Change Inc. (LTFC) and Alembic Community Development (Alembic) partnered to redevelop the historic McDonogh #19 school building, located at 5909 St Claude Avenue in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, into theTate, Etienne & Prevost (TEP) Center, an innovative educational facility with an overall mission to promote Civil Rights and undo structural racism.​

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB)  and the Beloved Community have relocated their respective office headquarters to the TEP Center in 2022. By preserving and repurposing the 90-year historic building with this innovative educational program, the programmatic partnerships will offer early childhood through graduate-level education that is grounded in racial equity principles, teaches the past and present of Civil Rights in New Orleans, and trains diverse populations in anti-racism skills and equitable practices. In addition, the project creates much-needed affordable housing units for low-income seniors, creates job opportunities for low-moderate income residents of the Lower 9th Ward, and provides anti-racism and organizing services to community members.

The renovated building includes:

The first Civil Rights exhibit  and educational space dedicated to teaching New Orleans’ Civil Rights history, operated by the Leona Tate Foundation for Change Inc.

PISAB’s Communiversity, a place to learn from one another and teach community the dynamics of racism and humanistic organizing through classes that range from early childhood to higher education.

The Beloved Community Headquarters where the organization works to uphold its commitment to dismantle the systems that uphold white supremacy through equitable economic development, policy advocacy and building the capacity of tomorrow’s workforce.

25 units of deeply affordable senior housing for residents 55 and older.

Support Our New TEP Interpretive Center Exhibit Buildout Fund

We are pleased to announce that in December 2021, the project completed a $16.2 million revitalization of the historic campus.

 

LTFC is currently seeking $5million of additional funding to complete the exhibit fabrication and installation and to support LTFC’s operational sustainability.

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THE STUDENTS

“The McDonogh 3”

In November 1960, 6-year-old Leona Tate walked up the front steps of the all-white McDonogh 19 Elementary School in the Lower 9th Ward and helped to desegregate New Orleans' public schools, while racist crowds jeered at her from St. Claude Avenue.

 

Since Hurricane Katrina, however, the building where that historic act happened has been shuttered — dark and lifeless save for some stray pigeons.

But on Monday, almost 60 years after Tate's tiny feet climbed those 18 stairs, she proudly broke ground for the building's redevelopment as its

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“The McDonogh 3”: Gail Etienne, Leona Tate and Tessie Prevost

new part-owner — a reality made possible by friends, civil rights activists and developers who say they’re committed to righting the wrongs of institutional racism.

Wearing a bright pink dress and a big smile, Tate also brought into clearer focus plans for what she and her partners call the “sacred space.”

 

Her hopes are to revive the building as a $16 million museum, community center and affordable housing anchor to help confront the discrimination that fueled school segregation then and continues to be at the root of other injustices today.

From "Leona Tate, developers break ground on new civil rights center in old McDonogh 19 building" by Katy Reckdahl and Della Hasselle. Read the full article at NOLA.com

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THE BUILDING

McDonogh #19

The 1929 building, totaling 35,000 square feet on more than an acre of property, was one of the initial two schools integrated in New Orleans. On November 14, 1960, six years after separate black and white schools were ruled unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, six-year old Leona Tate, Gail Etienne and Tessie Prevost were escorted by Federal Marshals through a crowd of shouting protesters to attend McDonogh 19, becoming the first African Americans to attend formerly white-only schools in Louisiana. The three young girls attended class alone – and under the protection of United States Marshals – in an otherwise empty building for a year and a half while their white peers and neighbors went to parochial and private schools elsewhere.

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McDonogh #19, located in the historic

Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana

Despite this seminal history and being entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, the building remained vacant and blighted for 13 years following its closure in 2004 and the subsequent devastation of the Lower 9th Ward by the Katrina levee failures.

 

The Leona Tate Foundation for Change Inc. (LTFC), and Alembic Community Development (Alembic) partnered to redevelop the historic McDonogh #19 school building, located at 5909 St Claude Avenue in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, into an innovative educational facility with an overall mission to promote Civil Rights and undo structural racism. The renovated building has been renamed the Tate, Etienne, and Prevost (TEP) Center.

 

The TEP Center educates audiences on the history of school desegregation and its role in the broader Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans. It is the centerpiece of the redevelopment of McDonogh 19 into an anti-racism educational and training space, coupled with 25 units of deeply affordable housing for seniors, with an overall mission to create a place of community power that advances racial equity.


The Center also includes the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond’s Communiversity, a place to learn from one another and teach community the dynamics of racism and humanistic organizing through classes that range from early childhood to higher education, and the headquarters of Beloved Community.

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The Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum

The Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum was created to celebrate the rich history of this unique neighborhood.

 

Only one in five residents have been able to return to their homes, so many stories will be lost if we as a community fail to actively remember.

 

The Living Museum Exhibit features oral histories from community members, exhibits of key events from the history of the Lower Ninth Ward, and cultural events that entertain and educate.

 

The Living Museum was co-founded by Dr. Caroline Heldman and Ian Breckenridge-Jackson in 2011 in response to the painfully slow rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward. They have engaged in rebuilding efforts since Katrina, and are now turning their efforts to remembering and celebrating the vibrant history and culture of this neighborhood.

 

The museum exhibits were relocated to the TEP Center in May 2022. 

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