55 in '58: Integrating the University of New Orleans

Tour curated by: Becky Retz

This is an immersive tour following the path of the 55 black students who integrated the new Louisiana State University at New Orleans (now the University of New Orleans) campus in 1958, creating the Crescent City's first desegregated school.

Locations for Tour

Begin this tour by climbing aboard the Elysian Fields bus, just as many black students did on their first day of classes in September 1958. The bus runs from Canal Street, through the French Quarter, and all the way up Elysian Fields Avenue to the…

Gentilly Boulevard crosses the Elysian Fields bus route at the next traffic light after passing under Interstate-610. When the bus passed this stop on that Monday morning in 1958, it suddenly became a much lonelier place for Joseph Narcisse. “The…

Just after Robert E. Lee Boulevard, the bus will turn left into the Lakefront Campus of the University of New Orleans (the university was renamed in 1974), where the battle for acceptance began one September morning in 1958. Disembark and look back…

Facing the bus, turn right and walk around the back of the bus stop to explore the campus, as you learn more about the rough road to integration. The giant statue of King Lear in front of the Performing Arts Center seems to hang his head in shame…

Looking north from the library commons towards Lake Pontchartrain, you can spy the old brick smokestack near the edge of the campus. The smokestack is the only original structure remaining from the decommissioned naval air station that once stood on…

Head back toward the bus stop, passing the amphitheater on your right and the administration building on your left. The administration building is a rather nondescript edifice, reflective of the role played by LSUNO's early administrators in the…

Enter the University Center at the top of the horseshoe driveway. To your left is the university cafeteria, renamed in 2014 for Louise Williams Arnolie, one of the original 55 African-American students and the first of her group to graduate from the…