Leona Tate played a crucial early role in the Civil Rights Movement, becoming one of the first African Americans to attend a formerly white-only school in Louisiana. In 2009, she created the Leona Tate Foundation for Change (LTFC) to continue educating the public, in particular young people, on the lessons of civil rights and minorities’ struggle for equality.
On November 14, 1960, six years after separate black and white schools were ruled unconstitutional in Brown vs Board of Education, Leona Tate, Gail Etienne and Tessie Prevost, only 6 years old, were escorted by Federal Marshals through a crowd of protesters to attend the McDonogh #19 Public School. The school building, located at 5909 St Claude Avenue in the historic Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana, still stands and serves as a testament to the role New Orleans has played in the American Civil Rights movement. Closed in 2004 and damaged one year later by Hurricane Katrina, the building sits vacant. Leona Tate has worked for many years to reopen the school as a monument to the vital history it represents.
In January 2009, the United States inaugurated its first African American president, creating a powerful symbol of progress in the long struggle for African American equality. A few months after this event, the Leona Tate Foundation for Change, Inc was born on the principle that in order to achieve harmony among humankind, every person should be afforded comparable opportunities and exposures. A component essential to implementing this principle is providing access to equal educational opportunities for greater New Orleans area youth.