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Llewellyn Soniat interview, Part 1
Rogers, Kim Lacy
Llewellyn Soniat begins the interview by describing his family background and upbringing in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans. When prompted by Rogers, he describes his first memories of awareness of segregation, when he explains that he attended some all-White Catholic parishes as a young child. He notes early awareness of segregated public facilities. He mentions his time at Xavier University, where he played football and basketball and he details segregated conditions for the congregation at Immaculate Conception Church (Jesuit Church). He describes meetings with Archbishop Rummel to discuss desegregation of Catholic schools. He describes the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the results of a mass protest as a key influence for his life in activism and his involvement with the NAACP, noting that he was familiar with Montgomery due to visits to Alabama State for athletics. He discusses his work with the NAACP recruiting the young African American girls who were the first to desegregate previously-all-White public schools in New Orleans. He describes relationships with the parents of these girls. He views New Orleans as atypical from other American cities, noting fairly integrated neighborhoods: "There was no other side of the track for us." He mentions Raphael Cassimere's co-leadership during picketing on Canal Street. He describes that during this time he was a University of New Orleans student and also starting a young family. He details the protests on Canal Street with members of the NAACP Youth Council. He laments that young picketers were not well-compensated for their work: "The most we could do was offer a cheap hamburger and a soft drink." He explains that the NAACP Youth Council voted on whether to maintain pickets on Canal Street, adding that it was members who did not themselves picket whose votes influenced the decision to maintain the protest. He describes an incident where he and a friend attempted to get a drink in the Gert Town neighborhood and got in a fight with off-duty police who frequently patronized that bar, ultimately settling out of court for $2,000.
Amistad Research Center
Box 8, Item 9, Side 1, Kim Lacy Rogers collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
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