Did desegregation come to UL at the turn of the century?

Black Farmer, Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, 1902, University of LouisianaIn 1954 Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now known as UL) faced a desegregation lawsuit brought by five African-American students, who were represented by none other than A.P. Tureaud and future Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.

In that summer, the Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision. A scant three months after that ruling, UL became the first school in the United States to follow the directive which instructed schools to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."

In doing so, UL became the second historically white school in the South to desegregate, and the first to do so in any meaningful way, admitting 80 African American students in that fall semester (the first was Virginia Tech, who had admitted a single black student in the preceding year). It would be more than a decade before many other southern colleges would desegregate, some of them at gunpoint.

Through cooperation and coordination between the Administration and the new African-American students, the University and the community avoided any major racial clashes. That early desegregation by the University also set into motion many campus initiatives that still characterize and improve UL to this day.

However, it is possible that desegregation actually began at UL in 1902, through a program of the US Department of Agriculture. The article is in the RaginPagin.com archives.