Today is the birthday of A. P. Tureaud, prominent civil rights attorney and contemporary of Thurgood Marshall. Born in New Orleans in 1899, Tureaud grew up acutely aware of the racial segregation which conditioned virtually all aspects of daily life. Tureaud left New Orleans in his teens, and after shifting around for a few years – between cities including Chicago and New York – he entered Howard Law School in 1922 and received a bachelor of laws degree in 1925. Tureaud passed the District of Columbia bar exam shortly after graduating, but ultimately decided to return to New Orleans.
Tureaud was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1927, and he served as Louisiana’s only active African American lawyer between 1937 and 1947. Tureaud maintained a long association with the New Orleans branch of the NAACP, and he helped push this group toward playing a more aggressive role in challenging the state’s deeply entrenched institutional discrimination. This activism led to lawsuits challenging pay inequality in Louisiana public schools (Joseph P. McKelpin v. Orleans Parish School Board, for example), as well as segregation in higher education (such as Viola Johnson v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana). Other suits involved the integration of New Orleans Public Schools, city parks, and other public facilities.
Tureaud retired in 1971, intending to turn his efforts to writing his autobiography and collecting documents and artifacts to found a museum on Louisiana African American history. However, a diagnosis of cancer foreshortened these projects.
The Amistad Research Center houses the personal and professional papers of A. P. Tureaud, reflecting his career as Louisiana’s most active civil rights lawyer. These papers include ligitation records, as well as documents related to desegregation in transportation and municipal facilities. Other materials include biographical items and collected items pertaining to Tureaud’s activities in documenting African American life in Louisiana. An online guide to this collection can be found here at the Center’s searchable archival database. This database, Archon, reflects a recent initiative at the Center to increase access to collections on the web. Though only a small percentage of our collections are available on Archon at this time (all presently available are viewable here), this number will increase gradually to eventually include all collections.
Other items relating to Tureaud, including the documentary Journey for Justice, can be found through the Tulane University Libraries catalog.
Posted by Andrew Salinas
(From the Alexander Pierre Tureaud papers, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)