A Civil Rights Pioneer
On November 14, 1960, at the age of six, Leona Tate entered into the Civil Rights movement when she and two other African-American girls integrated McDonogh#19.
For Leona and many others in the city, this day played a pivotal role in the pursuit to build a unified New Orleans. In the 50 years following, there remains much to be done to improve equal access and opportunities for all in this area.
It is widely recognized that the New Orleans public school system is the lowest performing school district in Louisiana. Research finds that education is the strongest and most predictive determinant of health, socio-economic and criminal outcomes.
Ms. Leona Tate is a New Orleans native and a lifelong resident of the city, daughter of the late Louise Tate and Cornelius Johnson, Sr. She is the mother of three and grandmother of twelve, great-grandmother of two.
On November 14, 1960, six years after separate black and white schools were ruled unconstitutional in Brown vs Board of Education, Ms. Tate climbed the steps of McDonogh #19 Elementary School as one of its first black students to attend the all white public school, escorted by her mother and U.S. Federal Marshals.
She is extremely grateful for the presence, bravery and courage of her mother, Louise Tate. Her mother’s presence created a “safe haven” around her in the midst of an otherwise intense racist and terrifying experience.
Ms. Tate believes that the strength of her mother was inextricably connected to the purpose God has placed in her heart that constitutes the source of her strength today.
She contends that “If we do not know our history then we are bound to repeat it.” She admonishes us that it is of utmost importance to, “remember our past as we look towards the future”.