History of the Federal Judiciary

History of the Federal Judiciary

  Bush v. Orleans Parish School Board and the Desegregation of New Orleans Schools

Alexander Pierre (A.P.) Tureaud (1899–1972)

NAACP attorney

Alexander Pierre (A.P.) Tureaud was the most prominent civil rights attorney in Louisiana from the 1940s until the 1960s and played a leading role in the desegregation of the New Orleans public schools.

Tureaud was born in 1899 in New Orleans into a black Creole family. In 1916, Tureaud moved to Chicago as part of the Great Migration of southern blacks to northern cities and eventually settled in Washington, D.C., with a job as a clerk in the U.S. Department of Justice in 1918. While in Washington, Tureaud finished high school, attended St. John’s College, and in 1921 enrolled in Howard University Law School. Upon graduating from Howard Law School in 1925, Tureaud returned to New Orleans to practice law. When Tureaud became a member of the bar of Louisiana in 1927, there were only four other black lawyers in the entire state. He worked in the office of the comptroller of customs in New Orleans from 1927 until 1941.

Tureaud became active in the New Orleans branch of the NAACP—the first branch established in the Deep South—and in 1950 became the branch president. In 1941, Tureaud, along with Thurgood Marshall of the national office of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, successfully challenged the inequality in salaries paid to black and white teachers in New Orleans. Over the next twenty-five years Tureaud filed most of the important civil rights litigation in Louisiana, including suits challenging the exclusion of blacks from the state’s colleges and universities, the exclusion of blacks from New Orleans city buses and city parks, and the inequality in funding for black and white schools in New Orleans. Tureaud also filed litigation challenging school segregation in New Orleans. In time, Tureaud was called “Mr. Civil Rights of Louisiana.” Tureaud ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1958.

Tureaud filed litigation challenging school segregation in New Orleans in 1952, litigation that would eventually succeed in 1960 when four black children entered two all-white schools. By this time, Tureaud’s home was under FBI surveillance. Tureaud continued his legal work during the 1960s, winning before the Supreme Court an important victory protecting the rights of sit-in protesters. Tureaud retired from law practice in 1971 and died in 1972.


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