Dorothy Mae Taylor

Stop 5 of 7 on the Ladies First tour

Dorothy Mae Taylor, born on August 10, 1928, is known as “The First Lady of 1300 Perdido Street” due to her years of service in New Orleans City Hall, located at 1300 Perdido Street, from 1986 to 1994. (1) In 1971, Taylor became the first woman of color elected to Louisiana’s House of Representatives and served in the legislature until 1980. (2) Before being elected, Taylor helped desegregate New Orleans public schools and helped to desegregate the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD). (3) Taylor fought for civil rights, corrections reform of Angola Prison, and economic equality for Blacks over the span of six decades. “When I decided to run for the LA State Legislature, my major concern was that I might use my office to improve living conditions—the social, political and economic makeup of my district,” said Taylor. (4)

Taylor believed in the need for more female leadership and the need for more women role models. Taylor’s role model was Sojourner Truth and Taylor promoted instilling pride in one’s self. Taylor said “We need these historical role models to remind us that we are somebody. That we were somebody before slavery. That we were somebody during slavery. That we were somebody after slavery.” (5) Taylor emphasized the importance of Black involvement in city government and was a fierce advocate on “eliminating policies that have a negative impact on the equality of life in the Black community.” (6)

Taylor’s stance on creating equal opportunities for the Black community is her lasting legacy. In the later years of her career, Taylor was known for enacting an ordinance that prohibited segregation practices in Mardi Gras krewes. Taylor felt that if public resources were used for krewes to participate in Mardi Gras parades, then all citizens should be allowed to join any particular krewe. Taylor also knew that important deals were made behind krewes' closed doors that did not include or benefit Blacks. (7) In 1992, she enacted a city ordinance to prevent Mardi Gras krewes from discriminating based on race. (8) According to a 2006 NPR piece, some white New Orleanians labelled Taylor as “the vixen that tried to steal Mardi Gras." (9)



1300 Perdido St., New Orleans, LA 70112