Picture above is the 1952 Royal Court of the Martinez Kindergarten School. The little monarchs that year were Byron Anthony McDonald and Verita Theresa Daste. The Dukes in service of their Royal Majesties were: Lyman Howard Barrow, Lester A. Caliste, Eric Anthony Daste, Walter Anthony Perkins, Joseph Peter Phillips, and Adam Riley, Jr. The presentation of the court took place in the Booker T. Washington High School Auditorium.
The Martinez Kindergarten School was founded in 1934 by Mrs. Mildred Martinez, a public school educator who had studied at Xavier University and Columbia University. Mrs. Martinez set out to provide black parents (including many schoolteacher-mothers) with an institution where their children would not only be baby-sat but where they would learn. The school began in the Uptown section at 5315 LaSalle Street, only a few blocks from the Isidore Newman School (which offered a comparable but segregated program). In February 1940, the Martinez School was relocated to 1763-1765 North Roman Street where it was conducted until Hurrican Katrina.
Mrs. Martinez was born Mildred Marie Virginia Bernard on 9 November 1905 to Joseph Bernard and Marie Bousquet. Her father’s family hailed from the town of New Iberia along Bayou Teche, while her mother’s lineage traced back to Donaldsonville along Bayou Lafourche. Mildred Bernard married Professor Manuel Martinez in 1932 at Corpus Christi Church, he himself being an educator within the public school system.
The Martinez School graduates have distinguished themselves in many fields, a lasting testament to the foundations received in those first lessons at Martinez. Sadly, the Martinez School remains closed since Katrina and the Booker Washington Auditorium like the rest of that campus remains shuttered.