By Leah Wood Jewett and Jennifer A. Cramer
The story of the integration of LSU transcends black and white. It is a tale of human perseverance; a shared, unwavering belief in the ideals of democracy; and ultimately, justice. The Relentless Pursuit of “Equal:” Integrating LSU commemorates the work of many individuals over many years to open the doors of Louisiana State University wide, for all and forever.
Oral Histories Help Tell the Story
Oral histories are a unique way to understand the role of Louisiana citizens in the advancement of the Civil Rights Movement both locally and nationally. Interviews document ordinary people becoming extraordinary agents for change, risking their lives for simple justice, so that future generations could experience freedom and equality.
Enrolled by court order as the first African American undergraduate at LSU, A. P. Tureaud, Jr., felt isolated and unwanted on campus. In one of many oral histories presented in the exhibition, The Relentless Pursuit of “Equal”, Tureaud recounts a touching moment that brought the meaning of his presence on campus into sharp focus:
“One morning, I came out . . . I couldn’t sleep and I came out just to be outside and to get away from that crazy dormitory with all the noise and stuff. It was like six o’clock in the morning, and I was coming out of the dorm . . . but there was this black man out there sitting in a truck. He had on bib overalls and he had a little boy with him. As I came out the entrance, he walked over to me and . . . big smile on his face and he said . . . He asked me if I was A. P. Tureaud. I said, “Yes.” He said, “I thought you were.” He said that he had been to the campus a few times, but he hadn’t seen me. He lived somewhere in the Baton Rouge area, and he had brought his son who was six or seven years old to meet me because he wanted his kid to remember that this was possible.”
Explore The Relentless Pursuit of “Equal” and the on-site listening station to learn more about the experiences of A. P. Tureaud, Jr., and many others during the Civil Rights Era in Baton Rouge.