Life of A. P. Tureaud

Written by: Tiffany Morgan
About: Alexander Pierre Tureaud

Everybody has heard of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman. But what about the small people in the background who did big things? No great thing happens without a lot of small people. We should all remember that—especially students who think they can't change things.

One person who is not as well known as he should be is Alexander Pierre Tureaud. He does have a street named after him and a statue right where the street runs into St. Bernard Ave., between Claiborne and N. Galvez. People who drive by that statue should know that A. P. Tureaud was a well-read man who was from New Orleans. He received a law degree from Howard University in 1925. After college, he returned to New Orleans and became an attorney for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He encouraged many blacks to register and vote.

In addition to all the small things, Tureaud is famous for the 1941 case, McKelpin v. the Board of Education. This successful suit forced the school board to pay black teachers the same salary it paid white teachers. This event may not be as famous as Rosa Parks' refusal to sit or Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. But it probably helped black professionals earn the sort of living that pushed them to greater activism and more equal treatment. Tureaud also fought the local school board in 1949. That case, Bush v. Board of Education, eventually led to the desegregation of the New Orleans public school system.

These are some of the small steps that were really big and necessary. We don't hear much about these cases today. We should keep digging deeper. There's a long chain of small actions that made the strength of freedom. Without Tureaud's work, where would someone else we never heard of, like Dr. Raphael Cassimere, be in his freedom fight. Dr. Cassimere played his own big, small part in the movement to desegregate buses. As a young boy riding the bus, he decided to turn around an insulting sign that ordered blacks to the back of the bus. He did not want to see the words, "For Colored Patrons Only." From here he became more and more of an activist, leading the youth chapter of the New Orleans NAACP during the integration demonstrations of the 1960's.

Let's learn about and remember all these people. And take our own big, small steps.