On November 15, 2019, New Iberia, Louisiana commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the 1944 expulsion of eight community leaders from the city. The group, which included four medical doctors, two teachers, and two insurance agents, had in June 1944 launched a new NAACP chapter.
Their first case came when a community member complained that he had been excluded from a new welding program that the city’s school department had established with federal dollars. The leaders of the chapter complained to the school superintendent, who took no action. Federal authorities forced the city to operate a black segregated facility, but it was quickly rendered inaccessible to black would-be students. After fresh complaints from the NAACP leadership to officials in Washington DC, the sheriff’s officers beat them up and banished them from New Iberia.
The doctors, teachers, and insurance men quickly fled for their lives. The city’s black community was left without medical professionals for about a decade thereafter. Thurgood Marshall took the case to the Department of Justice, which pursued in New Orleans, unsuccessfully, a grand jury indictment against the sheriff’s men who administered the beatings.
Professor Margaret Burnham and Professor Adam Fairclough (author of Race and Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915- 1972) keynoted the conference, which was sponsored by the Iberia African American Historical Society and Southern University Law Center. The podcast Southern Hollows broadcast the gathering (you can listen to it here), which included a public discussion by descendants and family of the banished civil rights pioneers and the unveiling of a plaque in their honor.
Top photo: The Iberia African American Historical Society worked with the state to install a historical marker for Eddie L. Dorsey, MD; Ima Pierson, DDS; Howard C. Scoggins, MD; Luins Williams, MD