Louisiana unveiling 2 new Civil Rights Trail markers Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS- Louisiana is unveiling two new Civil Rights Trail markers – one at the room where three Black first graders integrated a New Orleans school in 1960, and the other honoring an African American tank battalion formed during World War II.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser will lead ceremonies Tuesday at the former McDonogh 19 Elementary School, for the marker to Gail Etienne, Leona Tate and Tessie Prevost, and Wednesday at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, paying tribute to the 761st Tank Battalion. Each marker on the trail is a 6-foot-tall steel silhouette of a human with a sign explaining the events that took place at the site.

The school is now being developed as a civil rights museum named the Tate, Etienne, Prevost Center. The girls were its only students for months because white parents pulled their children out.

Starting Nov. 14, 1960, U.S. marshals escorted them to school every day. “The girls had recess indoors, ate under staircases, and the windows were covered at all times,” a news release recounted.

On the same day that they were first escorted into school, other U.S. marshals accompanied Ruby Bridges to William Frantz Elementary School.

The tank battalion – like the Tuskegee Airmen, an experimental unit – was created April 1, 1942, at Camp Claiborne in Rapides Parish. Its marker will be at the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum, in a replica barracks at what is now a National Guard facility.

Eight infantry divisions used the unit for direct support.

Gen. George S. Patton asked to have the 761st assigned to his command in 1944, and it “was often at the leading edge of Patton’s advance through Europe,” the National World War II Museum recounts on its website.

“In 183 days in combat, the men of the 761st liberated more than 30 towns, and were awarded 11 Silver Stars,” the museum continues. “In 1997, Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for action in France in November 1944.”

Louisiana’s trail is also part of a national civil rights trail spanning 14 states, including all of those in the Deep South.

 Stax Museum offering virtual events for Black History Month

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Stax Museum of American Soul Music and its music academy in Tennessee are once again offering an online concert and a virtual tour in honor of Black History Month in February.

The Memphis-based studio produced soul music by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, the Staples Singers, Booker T. and the MGs, Wilson Pickett and others in the 1960s and 1970s. The studio has been turned into a museum, and the adjacent Stax Music Academy teaches music theory, business and performance to young people.

The museum offered an online concert and virtual tours in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 130,000 students and adults viewed the programs, Stax said in a news release.

This year’s online concert will have Stax Music Academy students performing videos featuring songs from B.B. King, the Pointer Sisters, Ike & Tina Turner, Rufus Thomas, Duke Ellington and Beyonce, Stax said.

“Even with the ongoing waves of the COVID virus and other events that continue changing the world by the day, our Stax Music Academy students still find a great deal of comfort and happiness in studying, creating, rehearsing, and performing music,” Pat Mitchell Worley, executive director of the Stax Music Academy, said in a statement.

The virtual tour will focus on the achievements of Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers, former label owner Al Bell, songwriter and singer Bettye Crutcher, and Al Jackson Jr., the drummer for Booker T. & the M.G.’s.

Study guides and other activities will accompany the productions. Registration is available at the Stax Museum website.

JSU gets Getty Images grant to preserve historic photos

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Jackson State University is one of four historically black colleges and universities to receive a grant to help preserve the impact and contributions of the schools nationwide.

University officials said funding from the Getty Images Photo Archives Grant will help with the digitization of 50,000 photos in Jackson State’s archives, including stories of activism, civil rights and police violence. The illustrations of Tracy Sugarman, as well as the Freedom Summer Photograph Collection and the Gibbs Green Memorial Collection will be among the rare photos released into the new digital collection, The Clarion Ledger reported.

Three other universities – Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina, and Prairie View A&M in Prairie View, Texas – will share the $500,000 in grants with Jackson State.

Photo digitization is expected to begin by March and will take about a year to complete, officials said.

 Activists call on Boston to apologize for slave ties

BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts activists are calling on Boston officials to formally apologize for the city’s ties to the slave trade as it weighs the question of providing reparations.

The New Democracy Coalition issued a letter to the City Council Thursday arguing that the city needs to “apologize for its complicity” in the transatlantic slave trade before it launches any reparations efforts.

It said the council should immediately issue a resolution representing a formal city apology.

“Only then can we truly and earnestly discuss reparations. Only then can we find real reconciliation between Whites and Blacks in the city, which is the source of continuing social discord and xenophobia in Boston,” reads the letter, which the coalition said has also been sent to Mayor Michelle Wu.