A newly minted Louisiana non-profit, Liberty '64, headed by Dionne Butler, has created a series of event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the July 2, 1964 signing of the Civil Rights Act that will take place over a nine-day period. "As an African-American and native New Orleanian, my family lived the civil rights movement," Butler said. "When you grow up in a segregated society and watch downtrodden people come together for the remarkable accomplishment of passing such an important piece of legislation, you always remember it and want to celebrate it for the next generation," Butler said. The Liberty '64 event series includes:
Through the Civil Rights Lens, a photo and video exhibit of civil rights photographs, posters, films and audio recordings at the National Park Service's Visitor Information Center in Dutch Alley/French Market. The show opens Saturday, June 28 at 11:30 a.m. and will run for one month. The National Park Service will provide live entertainment several days each week. The June 28th opening will include a reception provided by Reginelli's Pizzeria in Lakeview and Chef Leon West's new Runway Cafe at the Lakefront Airport.
Civil Rights Sunday, June 29, an opportunity to remember the struggle and sacrifices which led to the legislation's passage - especially for the important role women such as Oretha Castle, Helen Mervis, Rosa Keller, Doris Castle, Dodie Smith and Lois Dejean played and the equally important contributions of young people like Jerome Smith, Matt Suarez, Lolie Elie, Don Hubbard, and Rudy Lombard. HRI Properties underwrote printed materials for use in the churches. "Too many of today's youth take their civil rights for granted," said Butler. Councilmember James Gray presented a proclamation from the New Orleans City Council proclaiming June 29th as "Civil Rights Sunday."
Bell Ringing Ceremony and Presentation, July 2, Noon outside the Louisiana Supreme Court, Royal Street entrance, with an invitation-only reception hosted by the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group and Scheurmann & Jones. "We encourage everyone to bring their bells and join us for this important moment," Butler explained.
Civil Rights Panel Discussions, June 30 - July 5, a series of five panel discussions to educate the community on important civil rights issues and serve as a teaching tool for school age children. Four panel discussions will take place at WWL-TV and be aired online and on Cox Channel 8 through the Orleans Parish School Board. Limited seating is available for the panel discussions at WWL. Topics include:
The event series closes with a Civil Rights Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues on Sunday, July 6, at 1 p.m. Phil Manuel, pianist and singer, will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Linda White and the House of Blues Praise Band will be the main performers with special guests the Zion Harmonizers. Tickets are already on sale through Ticketmaster. This is the only ticketed event in the series. Admission to all other events is free.
"We are also preparing a self-guided tour of historic civil rights sites in New Orleans including New Zion Baptist Church, Armstrong Park, the Homer Plessy site and other locations, that will be available next week.
Liberty '64 is a partner in the Civil Rights History Tour for New Orleans Youth sponsored by the National Basketball Retired Players Association, Stand for Children and New Orleans City Councilmember Latoya Cantrell which will take 200 New Orleans youth to Birmingham Alabama on June 25.
Initial funding for Liberty '64 came from Mary Keller Zervigon.
For more information contact Danae Columbus at 453-0523 or visit www.liberty64.com