BATON ROUGE, La.  – The Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, the Louisiana Office of Tourism and members of the selection commission for the new Louisiana Civil Rights Trail unveiled the first three markers of the trail at historic sites in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. They were joined by state and local officials and men & women who participated in the historic fight for equality.

The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail brings together the events of the 1950s and 1960s that placed the state of Louisiana at the center of the national Civil Rights Movement and narrates the compelling stories and experiences of the people who dedicated themselves and their lives to making civil rights real in Louisiana.

The idea for the trail came when Lt. Governor Nungesser was attending a conference where neighboring states were touting their own Civil Rights Trails and knew Louisiana played such a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement that it deserved a trail of its own.

“I knew that we had stories to tell here in Louisiana about the contributions of our citizens on the local, state and national level,” said Nungesser. “The bravery of these men and women needed to be officially recognized so that residents and visitors could see our communities in a new light and know that all are welcome here in Louisiana.”


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The striking life-sized markers are cut from steel in the silhouette of a figure in protest and stand over 6 feet tall – representing the brave individuals of the Civil Rights Movement and the personal experiences the trail honors.

The first three markers to be unveiled include:

  • Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans gained notoriety as a place where people of all races could sit down and discuss strategies for the civil rights movement. Iconic civil rights leaders Oretha Castle Haley, A.P. Tureaud, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Ralph Abernathy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. all gathered in the upstairs dining room. Leah Chase, Chef and co-owner with her husband Dooky famously said, “I like to think that we changed the course of America over a bowl of gumbo.”
  • The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott was a historic effort by black residents seeking fair treatment by the local bus company. They comprised 80% of the city bus ridership but were forced to stand at the back of the bus even when there were seats in the whites-only section of the bus. The old state capitol was a major site in the boycott, as riders gathered under oak trees to find free transportation to work.  It also had broader impact on the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired by the free ride system pioneered in Baton Rouge and used it as a model for the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
  • Little Union Baptist Church was the epicenter of civil rights activities in Shreveport. With the dynamic leadership of the Reverend Claude Clifford McClain members of the congregation strategized to peacefully resolve civil rights issues, planned store boycotts to protest hiring practices by downtown stores and conducted voter registration drives. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his last public appearance in Shreveport on June 8, 1962, delivering an inspirational speech from the church pulpit.

More markers will be unveiled at locations around the state as their production is completed.

View a promotional video about the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail.

The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail informs, inspires, and invites visitors to experience and explore Louisiana’s prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement. The trail reveals inside stories and examines the civil rights era from culture and commerce to desegregation and protests and confrontations. Two years in the making, the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail was developed with community vision and public submissions from across the state. Twenty-two meetings were held in every region of the state and university scholars and subject matter experts reviewed all submissions. Like the fight for Civil Rights, the work of the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail is ongoing. To learn more about the unique and important history of the movement in the State of Louisiana or to nominate a site, a person or an activity for inclusion, visit LouisianaCivilRightsTrail.com.  


April 30, 2021