Essay Contest Winners-1930

Essay Contest-1930

              Helen Alston                               Evelyn Brown                  Elfreda LeBeau

Shown above are the winners in the First Essay Contest sponsored by the Unity Life Insurance Company. They are (left to right)  Miss Helen Alston, first place winner of $200.00;  Miss Evelyn Brown, second place honors of $100.00; Miss Elfreda LeBeau, third place winner of $50.00

All local high school graduates in New Orleans could enter the contest but they were required to follow five rules. All contestants had to secure some form of life insurance from Unity itself, make extensive use of insurance literature, express themselves logically and intelligently, use good English, and turn in neat typewritten essays.

Of course, it’s obvious that by requiring candidates to purchase their life insurance, the company was using this contest for self promotion purposes; but it also had educational value by  enhancing students research / writing skills and rewarding their work.

The essays were all numbered so that the identity of the writer of the essay would not be known by the judges until the decisions were made. The project was the work of Mr. Constant C. Dejoie, President of the Unity Life Insurance. The judges were: Prof. Lawrence D. Crocker, Miss Fannie C. Williams, Mr. Arnold L. Moss, Attorney A. P. Tureaud; and Dr. Joseph A. Hardin.

These three young ladies would all eventually become teachers.

Elfreda Lebeau, the daughter of Joseph & Matilde Lebeau of Kerlerec Street, graduated from Xavier Preparatory. She went on to graduate from Fisk University and earned a Master’s Degree from New York University. She would  become one of the 1st Negro women to join the Women’s Army Corps and to serve in this country and Europe as a 1st Lieutenant  in World War II. Her career extended from New Orleans to New York and New Jersey as a teacher and principal in the high school systems of all three states.  She married Ernest J. Harris in 1945 and had one son, Ernest Harris Jr. Although she left New Orleans many years ago, her remains were returned to her home town for burial in December of 1957 and her services were attended by many family and friends.

Helen Alston, attended high school at New Orleans University. She was the daughter of Green and Florence Alston and the sister of Arthur Alston Sr.; Ethel, Dahlia, and Inez Alston.   She also became a teacher, taught at McDonogh No. 32 and Thomy Lafon Elementary before moving to Los Angeles, California. Little else is known of her except that she passed away July of 1964 with services being held at First Street Methodist Church and burial in Carrolton Cemetery in uptown New Orleans.

Evelyn Brown, daughter of  Hiram David Brown and Selika Veazey, attended grade school at Blessed Sacrament. She received her high school diploma from Xavier Preparatory and earned her BA and Masters in Education from Xavier University where she was a member of AKA Sorority. She married Numa Rousseve in 1938 after meeting him at the university, where he taught in the art department and she worked in the registrar’s office. Together they raised six children: Maurice, Numa Jr., Barthelemy, Elaine, Elodie, and Katharine.

Evelyn Brown Rousseve taught English at Clark High School, and remedial reading for many years at S.J. Green Middle School. She retired to help with the care-taking of her son, Maurice, who had been injured in a car accident. After the death of her husband in 1979, she worked several years in the library at her alma mater, Xavier Prep. She passed away July 16, 2011 and was buried from Holy Ghost Church (now St.K atharine Drexel Parish). She is remembered for her intelligence, quiet grace and inner beauty; as well as her kindness and respect for the dignity within each individual.

Sources:  The Louisiana Weekly, 31 May 1930, page1; Times Picayune (obituary), 18 December 1957 and 29 July 1964; Funeral Service Program for Evelyn Brown Rousseve, 23 July 2011.


3 thoughts on “Essay Contest Winners-1930

  1. How nice to see this story about my mother, Evelyn Brown Rousseve. I did not know this story nor had I seen this photo. By the way, correct spellings are Barthelemy and Katharine.

    Numa Rousseve

    • Hi Numa, I’m so glad that you discovered this photo of your mom, especially since you had never seen it before. I have made the two corrections on the spelling of those names. Thanks for sharing and pass the article onto other family members…Lolita

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