Louisiana: Leona Tate Foundation for Change

Leona Tate was only six years old when she became a civil rights activist and leader. On November 14, 1960, Ms. Tate, alongside Gail Etienne and Tessie Prevost, desegregated the previously all-white McDonogh #19 public school. These girls, escorted by federal marshals, were the first black students to attend an integrated public school in Louisiana.

Leona Tate, Gail Etienne, and Tessie Prevost in 2010, dressed for a formal occasion and standing outside in front of a plaque approximately three feet wide by three feet tall with the words "Civil Rights Pioneers" in capital letters across the top. The sign continues, "McDonogh Number 19 Elementary School, Site of the Integration of Southern Elementary School, November 14, 1960." The text continues but it is too small to be readable in the photograph. Leona Tate has her arms around two young children, and the three women are surrounded by several men, with more onlookers in the background.

Nearly 50 years later, the 2009 historic election of America's first black president birthed a renewed sense of activism in Ms. Tate. Only a few months later, she founded the Leona Tate Foundation for Change. This foundation is dedicated to the principle that in order to achieve harmony among humankind, every person should be afforded comparable opportunities and exposures. A component essential to implementing this principle is providing access to equal educational opportunities for greater New Orleans area youth.


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