BATON ROUGE, La. (BRProud) — The Louisiana Office of Tourism recently revealed a new tourism trail to call attention to the struggle for equal rights in the state. The first of a series of markers were erected in Louisiana’s largest cities.
One of the first three markers of Louisiana’s newest trail stands outside Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans.
“My mother and my father would be ‘oh so proud’ because they said finally, its coming to fruition,” said Edgar Dooky Chase III, the son of the late Leah Chase.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Dooky Chase’s hosted meetings for civil rights leaders, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The restaurant was also noted as a place where, even during segregation, blacks and whites could meet together upstairs.
“We’ve been fighting for freedom and equal justice under the law and our chase family is continuing that tradition mainly through the service and welcoming of all people to our establishment,” said Chase.
The second marker stands in the Capital City, just outside the Old State Capitol building downtown. The marker serves as a reminder of the first large-scale protest of segregated seating, through the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott. Dr. King would later use the event as inspiration for the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
“This has been three years of hard work by a great team all over Louisiana,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, who oversees the state tourism office, when referencing the recent unveilings. “We will embark on an educational program that we will provide to students, teachers and people to be downloaded because I wasn’t taught it in school.”
The third marker stands outside Shreveport’s Little Union Baptist Church, the last place Dr. King preached before his assasination in 1968.
“Our history has never been fully taught in schools and so it’s been passed down,” said Dr. Lue Russell, former CEO of the Multicultural Tourism Network of New Orleans. “Lots of times it was the things that were most negative, but we would also hear of the triumphs.”
The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail marker project will eventually include 15 locations.
“I hope that this would begin to open conversation about the good of America and what we can do together because the civil rights movement was not just African Americans,” said Dr. Russell.