December 24 1989- Ernest Nathan

GM – FBF – Today’s story takes us to the “Crescent City” of New Orleans, LA. Where a lot of U.S. History was made and still making history. The culture of the bayou is different than anywhere else in our country. The foods, music, dance and heritage keeps a lot of people from all over the world to visit and be part of it. So, when it comes to politics it is the same way. Enjoy!

Remember – “The people of New Orleans, work together, play together and make history together” – Mayor Ernest Nathan Morial

Today in our History – December 24,1989 – Ernest Nathan Morial dies.

Ernest Nathan Morial, known as Dutch Morial (October 9, 1929 – December 24, 1989), was an American political figure and a leading civil rights advocate. He was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans, serving from 1978 to 1986. He was the father of Marc Morial, who subsequently served as Mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002.

Morial, a New Orleans native, grew up in the Seventh Ward. His father was Walter Etienne Morial, a cigarmaker, and his mother was Leonie V. (Moore) Morial, a seamstress. He attended Holy Redeemer Elementary School and McDonogh No. 35 Senior High School. He graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1951. In 1954, he became the first African American to receive a law degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Morial came to prominence as a lawyer fighting to dismantle segregation and as president of the local from 1962 to 1965.

He followed in the cautious style of his mentor A.P. Tureaud in preferring to fight for Civil and political rights in courtroom battles,rather than through sit-ins and demonstrations. After unsuccessful electoral races in 1959 and 1963, he became the first black member of the Louisiana State Legislature since Reconstruction when he was elected in 1967 to represent a district in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood. He ran for an at-large position on New Orleans’ City Council in 1969 and 1970, and lost narrowly. He then became the first black Juvenile Court judge in Louisiana in 1970. When he was elected to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in 1974, he was the first black American to have attained this position as well.

New Orleans renamed its convention center, which spans over 10 blocks, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in 1992 for the late mayor. The convention center has been a major economic engine for the city’s large tourist industry and, in 2005, became a highly publicized national symbol when it served as a makeshift evacuation center in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 1997, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center posthumously honored Morial with the dedication of the Ernest N. Morial Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Disease Center. The facility is Louisiana’s first comprehensive center for the education, prevention, treatment and research of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“Dutch” suffered and eventually died from complications associated with asthma. Morial was the 23rd general president of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter organization established for African Americans. In 1993, Morial was named one of the first thirteen inductees into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, the first African American so honored.

A public school in New Orleans East was named after him: Ernest N. Morial Elementary. Research more about black Mayors in American Cities and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!