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1944 Expulsion of Iberia Parish’s Black Leaders

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By: Phebe Hayes

Painting By: Paul Schexnayder

On Nov. 15-16, 2019, the Iberia African American Historical Society (IAAHS) will host a free community-wide symposium in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the 1944 incident that resulted in the violent expulsion of all Iberia Parish’s black doctors (Eddie L. Dorsey MD, Howard C. Scoggins MD, Luins Williams MD, Ima A. Pierson DDS) and the leaders of the local NAACP chapter (Herman Faulk, J. Leo Hardy, Octave Lilly, Jr., & Franzella Volter).

For the first time, citizens of the parish will gather to hear the truth about this incident as told by premier researchers of the case, Dr. Adam Fairclough and Prof. Margaret Burnham. The public is invited to attend this important and free two-day event in New Iberia at the Sliman Theater (129 E. Main St.)

Friday

Southern University Law Center has partnered with IAAHS to sponsor the Fri., Nov. 15 opening night dinner and speaker in observance of the “1619 Project” that marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in the United States and its vestigial connections to Jim Crow-era violence, like the one that occurred in New Iberia in 1944. The opening night speaker will be prominent law professor, Margaret Burnham of Northeastern University School of Law and founder of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. Prof. Burnham’s work has been instrumental in casting light on unsolved cases of Jim Crow-era violence. Registration is required for the meal.

Saturday

Thanks to a 2019 Rebirth Grant awarded by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), IAAHS will host a day of activities on Sat., Nov., 16 (10 a.m.–3 p.m.) including a presentation by featured speaker and retired professor, Dr. Adam Fairclough (Raymond and Beverly Sackler Professor of American History, Leiden University).

Other Saturday activities planned include a panel composed of descendants and/or relatives of the doctors and NAACP leaders; the premiere of an original poem composed and read by Louisiana’s Poet Laureate (2019-2021), John Warner Smith; the unveiling of an original painting by local artist, Paul Schexnayder; and dramatization of the 1944 event in a national podcast by Stinson Liles of Southern Hollows.

The day will culminate with the unveiling of an official Louisiana state historic marker honoring the doctors and NAACP leaders. The marker will be placed at the site of Dr. Eddie L. Dorsey’s former home (500 French St., New Iberia). The Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center has partnered with IAAHS to provide a complimentary lunch for the Saturday symposium attendees. Registration is required for the meal.

IAAHS is a small nonprofit organization (501c3), that relies on donations from the public to fund the commemorative markers and related activities. Donations are always appreciated and may be mailed to:

The Iberia African American Historical Society
P.O. Box 9923
New Iberia, LA 70562

For additional information, check the organization’s website, Facebook or call Phebe Hayes at (337) 519-3957. RSVP for the Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch.


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