Pillars of Progress

Pillars of Progress (HM191Z)

Location: Lafayette, LA 70503 Lafayette Parish
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Country: United States of America
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N 30° 12.785', W 92° 1.235'

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Desegregation of SLI

On September 15, 1953, Clara Dell Constantine, Martha Jane Conway, Charles Vincent Singleton, and Shirley Taylor attempted to enroll at Southwestern Louisiana Institute, now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. They were denied, due to their race. On their behalf, attorneys Thurgood Marshall, a future appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and civil rights pioneer A.P. Tureaud filed a class action complaint in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on January 4, 1954, seeking admission to the all-white school.

A Panel of three judges - Wayne G. Borah, Benjamin C. Dawkins, Jr. and Edwin F. Hunter, Jr. - ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. On July 16, 1954, the court issued a judgment that permanently prohibited SLI from refusing to admit them, "or any other Negro citizen of the state, residing in Southwest Louisiana, and similarly qualified and situated," on the basis of race or color.

On September 10, 1954, SLI became the first all-white, state-supported college in the Deep South to desegregate, when 76 African American students registered for classes, including the four plaintiffs in Constantine v. SLI. Trying times lay ahead. Desegregation was accomplished without the violence that occurred later when other southern schools admitted African American students for the first time. But turmoil on SLI's campus took its toll: by mid-term, the number of African American students at SLI had markedly decreased.
HM NumberHM191Z
Year Placed2004
Placed ByAlumni Association, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 at 12:44pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15R E 594262 N 3342802
Decimal Degrees30.21308333, -92.02058333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 30° 12.785', W 92° 1.235'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds30° 12' 47.10" N, 92° 1' 14.10" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)337
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 110-114 Rex St, Lafayette LA 70503, US
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