SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – On September 22, 1963, community members peacefully gathered at Little Union Baptist Church for the four little girls killed in the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.
The memorial quickly turned violent with the brutal beating of NAACP leader, Rev. Harry Blake by law enforcement.
“What happened to him that Sunday, not nobody in this city. No leader in this city stood up against what happened to him, but the students at Booker T. Washington.”
That very next day, Calvin Austin lead a group of students down Milam Street to march in protest of what happened to Rev. Blake.
“The chant was… what do we want? And somebody said freedom! We said, when do we want it? Now! We sung we shall overcome.”
When they reached the corner they were met by Shreveport police officers.
“I was thrown in a paddy wagon with 17 other students. I was taken to city jail. Stood before a judge and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, inciting a riot, unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace.”
He spent 45 days in jail and since Austin was considered the organizer of the protest he was expelled from school and after 35 years he finally returned to Shreveport.
“I thank God that we are where we are, but we could be better.”
He wants everyone to work together to build a better Shreveport.
“Whatever color you are, but look at each other with a eye of love.”
Austin was able to complete his schooling in New Orleans, but in 2005 then superintendent Ollie Tyler presented him with a high school diploma from Booker T. Washington.