The early part of the year celebrates Black History Month and Women’s History Month. To honor both, we’d like to share some content from the Williams Center’s collections as a reminder that women have been the backbone of social movements, both big and small.
An oral history interview with Eva Legard is one of five recently-processed collections from the McKinley High School Series, including Keith Douglas, Lisa R. Jones, Nathaniel Harrison, and Virginia Butler. These interviews are now available to patrons and researchers like you. Legard made her mark as the first African American female member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, and as a longtime member and president of the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations. In this excerpt, Legard recalls her election to the school board in 1980:
(Click within text to play audio)
Carmen Posey: Were you involved in the Civil Rights Movement?
Eva Legard: Very, very limited. Very limited. It wasn’t until I became involved in politics that I even, you know, bothered about it.
Posey: How did you get interested in politics?
Legard: Oh, I had attended a school board meeting in 1980 . . . deciding whether they wanted blacks to be able to sit on the board. The meeting started at four o’clock that afternoon and lasted until two that next morning. Finally, about a quarter to two, they passed a motion saying that they would accept blacks. Attorney Walter Dumas asked me would I run for the school board. Because I had been campaign manager for another lady who was running, but she announced that night that she was not going to run.
So, Walter said, “Mrs. Legard, would you please run?” He said, “I worked too hard and we finally got this passed and I certainly would like to have somebody serve on this board who would represent us well.” I told him, I said, “I don’t know if I can do that, because I haven’t talked to my family and I have no money.” So, he said, “Well, go and talk to your family and don’t worry about the money. I’ll get that.” I talked to my children and my husband and my momma and my grandmother and they said, “Oh, by all means. Go on and do it. You’ll be supported.” I ran that year and I won. I served from 1980 until I retired in ’94.
Legard, Eva, interview by Carmen Posey and Shanta Jenkins, audio recording, 1995, 4700.0624. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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