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Black History Month

History-makers of Southeast Louisiana

Ernest "Dutch" Morial

Photo from The Donn Young Photograph Collection, Louisiana Digital Library, Baton Rouge, La.


Ernest “Dutch” Morial (1929-1989)  -- lawyer, judge, state legislator, and mayor

Dutch Morial was truly a history maker. He was the son of Creole parents. His father was a cigar maker and his mother was a seamstress. Morial grew up in the 7th Ward of New Orleans and graduated from McDonogh 35 Senior High School and Xavier University. In 1954, he was the first African American graduate of LSU Law School.
Morial gained prominence as a lawyer, becoming one of the nation's leading civil rights advocates. With support from his mentor A. P. Tureaud and his wife Sybil Haydel, he won a number of successful desegregation suits aimed at education, transportation, and public institutions.
In 1967, he was elected as the first black member of the state House of Representatives since Reconstruction. In 1970, he became the first black Juvenile Court judge in Louisiana. Then, in 1974, he was elected to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. He is perhaps best known for being the first black mayor of New Orleans, serving from 1978-1986.
In 1989, Ernest Morial died from an asthmatic attack. As a tribute, in 1997, LSU Health Sciences Center established the Ernest N. Morial Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Disease Center to treat and study asthma. Among those at the dedication was the Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who also suffers from chronic asthma.
"Dutch became the standard by which all black elected officials are measured -- the standard after which other politicians tried to model themselves," longtime local pollster Silas Lee said about Morial's death. "He's always been his own man. A look back on his life shows a man who stood up against insurmountable odds. His life was punctuated by overcoming lots of challenges that others would not have attempted."
His eldest son, Marc, became mayor of New Orleans in 1994.

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The books listed below are available for you at Sims Memorial Library.