Historic Markers

The Plessy and Ferguson Foundation Plaque Project

The Plessy and Ferguson Foundation and its allies have dedicated themselves to resurrecting the contributions of the stalwart individuals, institutions and social movements that changed New Orleans in a positive way. Many of their efforts have not been recognized. it is our intention to research these contributors and place markers at the sites where history was made. In doing so, we hope to develop a fuller history of New Orleans that includes our forgotten pioneers. The total cost of each plaque is $2600.00 and is paid for by community partners and citizen contributions.

In order of most recent markers:

The Pythian Temple Marker Dedication
April 6, 2017

Original Facade and history of the Temple

Portrait of S.W. Green and the History of the Knights of Pythias organization

Under the leadership of S.W. Green, a formerly enslaved man and a self-made millionaire, the Colored Knights of the Pythias of Louisiana (officially known as the The Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias of Louisiana. Jurisdiction: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia) commissioned the Pythian’s construction in 1908. Reporting on the building’s dedication ceremony in 1909, the Times Picayune described it as “the biggest enterprise ever attempted by the colored race of the United States.”

During its heyday, the Pythian Temple—called so because it was the order’s official headquarters—hosted a number of African American businesses such as Green’s Liberty Independent Life Insurance company (Homer Plessy was an employee), a bank, the Negro Board of Trade and the Louisiana Weekly newspaper; a theater, which hosted a number local and traveling theater troupes; and a rooftop garden music venue, which featured a number of jazz legends including Louis Armstrong and Manuel Perez. 

Valena C. Jones Elementary School
November 14, 2015

The Plessy and Ferguson Foundation recently partnered with Beecher Memorial United Church of Christ to place a historical marker on the site of the Valena C. Jones Elementary School. Valena C. Jones was the first public elementary school for African American children in the 7th ward neighborhood; a quest which began in 1905 by community members who sought an adequate education for their children. Jones school began as the London Avenue Preparatory School in 1904 under the leadership of Rev. Alfred Lawless, the founding members of Beecher Memorial Church, and the Seventh Ward Educational League. Community advocacy led to the completion of the current structure in 1929.


Jones School in 1934    1914 North Miro St. New Orleans, La.
Jones School Teachers 1935


Jones School 2015 boarded up since Hurricane Katrina

      

McDonogh No. 19  Elementary School Marker
November 14, 2010

In September of 1952, Thurgood Marshall, Robert Carter of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and legendary New Orleans attorney A.P. Tureaud, initiated a suit calling for the end of the segregated school system in Orleans Parish.On November 14th, 1960, four six-year-old girls bravely entered McDonogh #19 and William Frantz elementary schools despite year-long daily protests and threats from segregationists. Their story marked New Orleans’ dramatic entrance into the modern Civil Rights Movement and captivated the nation in 1960. On November 14, 2010, Leona Tate, Gail Etienne Stripling, and Tessie Prevost unveiled a historical marker to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of public schools in New Orleans. The event took place on Sunday, November 14 at 9A.M. – the exact time the children were escorted by federal marshals into their schools — on the neutral ground in front of McDonogh #19 (5909 St. Claude Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward).

The event featured appearances by AP Tureaud Jr., Justice Bernette Johnson, Dr. Raphael Cassimere and Damon T. Hewitt of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and music by Mrs. Karen B. Favorite. The US Marshals who escorted the girls into the school were also in attendance. The Plessy & Ferguson Foundation, The Crescent City Peace Alliance, The Leona Tate Foundation for Change and the Institute for Civil Rights and Social Justice sponsored the plaque and the event.

U.S. Marshals stand with Gail Etienne, Tessie Prevost, Leona Tate and AP Tureaud Jr. at the unveiling ceremony.

U.S. Marshals escort Gail Etienne, Tessie Prevost and Leona Tate from
McDonogh #19, November 14, 1960.

Plessy V. Ferguson Marker
February 12, 2009

The descendants of Homer Adolph Plessy and Judge John Howard Ferguson announced the formation of the Plessy & Ferguson Foundation. With an event entitled “A Celebration of Progress” at the corner of Press and Royal Streets, where Homer Plessy was arrested on June 7, 1892 for violating the 1890 Separate Car Law of Louisiana, a state plaque was unveiled to honor Homer Plessy and the Citizens’ Committee.  The plaque marks the legacy of one of America’s most important civil rights pioneers as well as a turning point in America’s fight for equity and justice.

Thanks to the efforts and contributions of the Crescent City Peace Alliance, The NOCCA Institute, The Plessy and Ferguson Foundation and the citizen’s of New Orleans.

Members of the Plessy and Ferguson families