Diedra Meredith remembers first learning about the school desegregation crisis in New Orleans while in third grade. Ruby Bridges, Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne — all first-grade students — desegregated two schools in the city. Years later, Meredith met with Leona Tate, during which Tate shared her intention to purchase the McDonogh 19 Elementary School building that she desegregated on Nov. 14, 1960.
That meeting led to the creation of the New Orleans Four Legacy Project.
Desegregation of New Orleans schools “with all deliberate speed” was ordered in 1956 by U.S. Circuit Judge J. Skelly Wright. By 1960, integration had not yet taken place and Judge Wright issued a federal order to gradually desegregate New Orleans schools, beginning with students in first grade, and expanding one grade level each year as the students progressed.