News release
Public Information Office   SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061 Summer  2005 news releases Public Information home News archive

Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 11/14/05
National guardsmen and state troopers shield marchers on their way to Baton Rouge in 1967.Click on image for publication quality photo 

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.

        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 period.”
        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,” Hyde said.
        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 across town. 
        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.
        The Southeastern 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