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[ The individuals shown above are the original 46 members of the Seventh Ward Civic League of 1927. ]
(1) Mrs. A. Picou (2) L. Clavo (3) J. W. Nelson (4) Albert Broussard (5) George A. Courseault (6) Miss Emily Watts (7) Manzel Woodfork (8) M. B.Williams (9) Mrs. Antoine Trudeau (10) Albert Blandin (11) Hon. Walter L. Cohen (12) Atty. A. P.Tureaud (13) Prof. George Longe (14) Mrs. Leontine M. Hardin (15) George Roques (16) Mrs. Wilhelmina De Rouen (17) William De Rouen (18) Antoine M. Trudeau (19) Dr. Joseph A. Hardin [President] (20) Alex Mollay [1st Vice-President] (21) Mrs. Alex Mollay (22) Alex Richard (23) Aaron Morris (24) Arthur J. Chapital [Sergent at Arms] (25) Oscar Daste [Treasurer] (26) Wilfred Collins Jr. [3rd Vice-President] (27) Gilbert Valentine (28) Patrick M. Cambre (29) Miss Elizabeth Crowden (30) Mrs. Bertha Chapital (31) Lucien Honore [Financial Secretary] (32) Rev. Joseph Martin [Chaplain] (33) George McKenna, Sr. [Recording Secretary] (34) Noah J. Burleigh (35) Miss Jennie Watts (36) T. R. Anderson (37) Mrs. Bridget DeRonselet (38) Louis Alfred (39) Rev. F. H. Lewis (40) Mrs. E. H. Lewis (41) Emile Evans (42) Albert J. Victorian (43) Miss Fannie C. Williams (44) C. A. Daste (45) A. M. Thompson (46) Miss Mary Watts.
It all began at a racially- mixed political mass meeting held on September 13, 1927 at the San Jacinto Social and Pleasure Club. It was on this occasion that one of the white speakers made the statement that since whites had freedom far longer than Negroes, they (the Negroes) should not expect to occupy seats on the Republican Party’s committee, but should be satisfied with being able to vote and to build the organization’s membership. Many in the audience applauded the speaker’s statement, but others saw fit to reflect upon this outlandish statement rather than applaud.
Among those present were Alexander Mollay (retired U.S. postal employee) and Dr. J. A. Hardin (prominent physician), both residents of the Seventh Ward in New Orleans. On leaving the meeting, these two men disputed the speaker’s statements and decided then and there to contact other civic- minded members of their district to discuss forming their own civic group. Friends and neighbors were contacted, meetings were held at various homes, and plans were set in motion.
At a meeting held at the Autocrat Club on November 23, 1927, the Seventh Ward Civic League was formed and officers were elected. Long discussions followed and goals of the organization were outlined. They were: (1) to unite the people of the 7th Ward in bonds of friendship and civic pride (2) to further educational opportunities of young people (3) to improve public health (4) to encourage the establishment of more businesses in the 7th Ward and get residents to give support (5) to have their organization represented before governmental and other civic public bodies (6) to provide for intelligent interracial cooperation.
The League was composed of both males and females of at least 18 years of age who were residents within the acknowledged boundaries of the ward. Dues were 15 cents per month and all members were volunteers.
They immediately went into action and took on causes that brought about solutions to their community. They appeared before the school board on numerous occasions and were successful in obtaining the newly built public elementary school in the 7th Ward, Valena C. Jones.
They obtained more street lights for those areas that had none. They brought in sand, gravel, and cement to pave streets that were dirt roads. Weeds were cut and neighbors throughout the area were encouraged to plant gardens to beautify the area. Stagnant gutters which had been a serious problem were drained.
Success was also achieved by forcing the city to renumber houses over a large part of the ward so that the post office could deliver everyone’s mail promptly and to their correct addresses. The League even succeeded in promoting interracial cooperation and good will by inviting many prominent men and women of both races to speak at their meetings.
So successful were the efforts of this League that leading citizens of other wards proposed starting similar groups throughout the city. With the cooperation of the Seventh Ward League, the Fourth Ward was next to organize, followed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eight, and Ninth Wards. This new movement continued and on November 14, 1928 the various ward leagues came together to organize themselves into what became known as The Federation of Civic Leagues of the City of New Orleans. An article on this newly formed group and its accomplishments will be posted at a later date.
Sources: Amistad Research Center / A.P. Tureaud Papers (Box 77- Fol. 46); Amistad Research Center/ photo from: Joseph A. Hardin Collection(Box 1-Fol.5); The Louisiana Weekly 30 June 1934 pages 1and 2.
Lolita C. Cherrie