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A half-century ago, first-graders Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost and Gail Etienne had McDonogh 19 to themselves for an entire year, thanks to a white boycott.


An unnamed white boy briefly broke the boycott in January 1961, but left once protesters descended upon the Walgreen’s that employed his father, John Thompson.

Despite the hostile crowds that gathered outside and the brown paper that covered classroom windows for their safety, the building was a sanctuary, the women told The Times-Picayune in a 2004 interview.

But after two years, the three girls were transferred, for reasons unknown to them, Tate said. An explanation can be found in the archives at Amistad Research Center. During the girls’ second-grade year, in January 1962, the Orleans Parish School Board decided to convert McDonogh 19 to one “for the exclusive use of Negro children,” according to a letter written to the board by civil rights attorney A.P. who represented the parents as part of a 1952 lawsuit he had filed to challenge school segregation in New Orleans.

Article from: ‘The McDonogh 3’ help unveil historical marker at their 1960 school. 

Published: Sunday, November 14, 2010

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