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Rudy Lombard interview
Rogers, Kim Lacy
Rudy Lombard begins the interview by discussing his upbringing in New Orleans, and in response to Rogers' question describes his memories of growing up in segregation. Lombard describes growing up in a racially mixed neighborhood living with the ubiquity of segregation. He describes his father as unwilling to tolerate disrespect and "forever mocking the system of segregation." Lombard describes his first act of "protest" in elementary school, when he threw a ball into a Whites-only park and encouraged his friends to play in the park; when he came home after the incident, in which police were called by neighbors, his father had bought him a case of Barq's root beer as an unspoken reward for his defiance. Rogers then asks Lombard more specifically about his CORE activism and how he perceived the risks that he took through such activism. Lombard answers that the threat of physical violence was how the system of segregation was perpetuated. Lombard describes converting to Catholicism so he could attend parochial schools, something encouraged by his parents, and how he "learned to turn the other cheek" through that process. He describes the earliest Civil rights demonstrations in New Orleans, including some held on the campus of Dillard University. He claims that few Xavier University students were initially interested in participating in direct action, something he attributes as a fear of endangering their educations. He describes attending the University of Michigan for a year before transferring to Xavier and how he left Michigan when he realized it was imposing too much of a financial strain on his family. Lombard describes his experiences being incarcerated, and mentions being wrongfully arrested for intoxication while he was a Xavier student, an experience that "strengthened his resolve to do something" and prepared him for future confrontations. He describes a violent confrontation with police in Plaquemine, Louisiana, where he "spent the night in a fig tree." He also details his experiences and the intense fear among Civil rights workers around Philadelphia, Mississippi, particularly after the deaths of Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman. He discusses how such activism allowed himself and other young people to refine their values evaluate society: "I don't think you can fool people who came through the Civil rights era." Rogers asks Lombard about his campaign for mayor of New Orleans in 1986. Lombard responds by explaining that despite having a Black mayor, conditions in New Orleans, and for African Americans in particular, were "appalling": "The people who had come to public office through elections or appointments "u2013 I felt "u2013 were betraying the Movement, were betraying all the things that we had fought for." He explains that he'd first approached friends and his brother and asked if they were willing to run for mayor, including Oretha Castle Haley. He describes his opposition to Dutch Morial's attempts to change campaign laws to allow him to run for a third mayoral term: "Everybody was afraid to criticize the incumbent"u2026 Everything I had done had prepared me to not be afraid of anybody, let alone another Black who had inherited office as a result of what we had done"u2026 that was absolutely absurd!"
Amistad Research Center
Box 6, Item 22, Side A, Kim Lacy Rogers collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
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