A Snapshot History of the
New Orleans Coalition Advocacy Efforts
The New Orleans Coalition was born 50 years ago, in 1967, after the passage of the Voting Right’s Act. It was one of the first integrated, politically active groups in New Orleans with members determined to turn around years of institutional racial discrimination.
It studied issues and advocated for change. It was dedicated to the areas of:
public accommodations (integrating - bars, neighborhoods, public schools and early educational programs); reforming urban-renewal policy; police brutality; women’s rights; property tax reform; support of the California Grape Boycott; advocating for increased welfare support; and electing progressive candidates.
Today, it meets to hear local candidates and endorse, which is important. However, the Coalition will be expanding activities to address formidable local, state and national issues, as it did earlier.
In past days of the Coalition, major activities included:
• Public Accommodations - going to segregated bars with racially mixed couples, documenting information obtained, and giving that information to the ACLU and City Council. The Council subsequently passed the Public Accommodations Ordinance.
• Renovation-Oriented Urban Renewal - studying, supporting and advocating for renovation-oriented housing urban renewal policies that were eventually enacted by the LA State Legislature. The common practice at the time was to demolish/bull-doze run-down homes causing people to leave their homes, affecting minorities and low income citizens and their natural neighborhoods adversely.
• Police Brutality - documenting problems with police brutality and advocating for an outside review of brutality reports.
• Discrimination Practices in Public Schools & Preschools -
supporting policies against discrimination in public education and preschools. This activity resulted in a successful law suit against the public schools for busing African-American children past white schools, and the creation of an integrated preschool (that included children with disabilities) in the Coalition basement.
• Women’s Rights - helping to establish the women’s movement in New Orleans and the Equal Rights Amendment. Early meetings were held in the Coalition basement which also became the Head Quarters for ERA
• Property Tax Reform - working for property tax reform as assessors appraised housing at or below the homestead exemption leaving our city with little revenue for schools, etc.
• Elections - endorsing and campaigning for progressive and African American candidates.