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FLORIDA PARISHES CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE
-- National guardsmen and state troopers shield black marchers from onlookers
near Denham Springs during their 1967 trek from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge.
More than 800 National Guardsmen were ordered by Louisiana Governor John
McKeithen to provide additional protection. The Bogalusa march and other
Civil Rights era events in the Florida Parishes are detailed in a new episode
of the Southeastern Channel’s “Florida Parishes Chronicles,” airing Wednesday,
Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. on Cable Channel 18.
SOUTHEASTERN CHANNEL TO AIR SPECIAL
ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE IN THE FLORIDA PARISHES
HAMMOND -- Desegregation
and busing schoolchildren across town. Protests and violence. The Black
Power movement and Ku Klux Klan. All made up the powder keg of racial tension
during the sixties civil rights struggle in America.
The same struggle
reached a boiling point in the Florida Parishes during that era, and the
conflict in this region is recaptured vividly in a new episode of “The
Florida Parish Chronicles” set to air at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 16, on
the Southeastern Channel, Southeastern Louisiana University’s educational
access channel on Charter Cable Channel 18. “The Florida Parish Chronicles
recounts important historical moments in the Florida Parishes and is hosted
by Samuel C. Hyde, Southeastern’s Ford Chair in Regional Studies and director
of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies.
The new episode,
entitled “Recasting a Regional Identity: The Civil Rights Struggle in the
Florida Parishes,” spans the regional growth of post-Civil War segregation
to the massive resistance, demonstrations and violence touched off by the
1954 Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education ruling and the 1964 Civil Rights
Act which ordered the desegregation of schools and public facilities.
“The civil rights
struggle in the Florida Parishes was a microcosm for the entire nation,”
said Rick Settoon, the show’s producer and general manager of the Southeastern
Channel. “This program is important for those in our area who lived through
that time -- and for the generations that have followed -- to view those
volatile and yet pivotal events in the proper historical perspective. It
helps us understand and gauge the progress in race relations since that
The program describes
the escalating conflict and turn of events throughout the Florida Parishes,
focusing on the 1965 crisis in Bogalusa, which featured daily incidents
of racial violence that paralyzed the economy and required a buildup of
state and federal troops.
The show also spotlights
the 1967 black march from Bogalusa throughout the Florida Parishes to the
steps of the state capitol in Baton Rouge organized by A.Z. Young, leader
of the Bogalusa Negro Voters League. The 106-mile trek was twice the distance
of the famed Selma to Montgomery, Ala., march of the same period.
“Few events have
done more to transform the modern identity of our region than the collective
circumstances we know as the civil rights movement,” said Hyde. “Although
dramatic events in other regions of the South typically dominate popular
portrayals of the movement, developments critical to the ultimate resolution
of the struggle occurred here in the Florida Parishes.
“From the groundbreaking
court cases to the Bogalusa-to-Baton Rouge march, this episode reveals
that our region remained at the forefront in recasting a regional identity,”
In addition to the
documentary background segment on the sequence of explosive events, the
show features location interviews with experts and eyewitnesses of the
1967 Bogalusa march. Hyde interviews Roman Heleniak, Southeastern professor
emeritus of history and author of articles on the march, and J.L. Garrett,
Hammond veterinarian and local civil rights advocate.
A studio interview
with Franklinton Mayor Earl Brown, a Washington Parish school administrator
during that era, reveals the awkward transition to busing school children
The show was videotaped
by Southeastern Channel staff member Josh A. Kapusinski and edited by Kapusinski
and Pelle Eriksson. Keith Finley, also with the Center for Southeast Louisiana
Studies and a Southeastern history instructor, assisted in research.
Channel can be viewed on Charter Cable Channel 18 in Tangipahoa, Livingston
and St. Tammany parishes and on Channel 17 in Washington parish.
It can also be viewed at www.selu.edu/tv.