A family friend confirms, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu – who, early, lonely against segregationists in the Louisiana legislature, launched a political career at the forefront of changes far-reaching racial change – passed away on Monday. He is 92 years old.
Ryan Berni, a longtime family friend, confirmed that Landrieu had passed away early Monday.
Berni told the Associated Press: “He passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by family.
Landrieu was a warlike progressive white Democrat from a blue-collar Roman Catholic family who served in the Army and stood with the first black students at law school. Loyola of the city before winning a state seat in 1960.
Up to that point, six years had passed since the U.S. Supreme Court ordered public schools to be segregated across the nation, and Landrieu couldn’t do it right when Governor Jimmie Davis enacted the law. to keep students in New Orleans from being racist. They crossed the margin with Landrieu, at least once, voting a single “no”.
The white politicians in power in Louisiana say he dug his political grave, but he retained his House seat in 1963 and later won a city council seat in 1965. With strong support from black voters, influencers began to be felt at the polls.
To win his first term as mayor, Landrieu assembled a coalition of white and African-American liberals and campaigned to include Blacks in key government positions.
The City Hall integration comes with a price: In a 2018 memoir, Mitch Landrieu wrote that death threats were called to his family home and school. Moon Landrieu discussed the racial backlash in a 1977 speech to the League of National Cities convention.
“If you’re embarking on a campaign to end racism in your homeland, you’re going to need nerves of steel, a will of iron, skin like leather and testicles of brass to fight the cable,” he said. hang and arrow. “I myself for the past eight years have been known to everyone as ‘Moon the Coon,’ an epitome of what hurts me at times, but it’s also a badge of honor that proves what we’ve done. I try to do.”
His mayoral legacy also includes the New Orleans Superdome, which finally opened in 1975. It’s a favorite of the now-cityscape, but cost overruns and a contract scandal. gave it a headache to its supporters, including Landrieu.
“There was an unbelievable emphasis on a few things that were wrong with it and completely ignored a lot of things that were right with it,” he said a few years later.
As Black voters gained influence, the coalition elected Landrieu to a maximum of two terms that made Ernest “Dutch ″ Morial the city’s first Black mayor, in 1978.
Landrieu later became the housing and urban development secretary to President Jimmy Carter, an agency whose programs came under attack when President Ronald Reagan took office on the basis of a reduction in the size and power of the federal government. state.
Landrieu criticized Reagan for “gutting” public aid programs, and briefly saw it as a presidential bid. But he never sought national office. Instead, he became a judge — “I really wanted to stay away from my kids,” he said — serving on Louisiana’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeals from 1992 to 2000.
Some of Landrieu’s nine children continue his legacy in law and politics: Mitch, also a two-term mayor of New Orleans, is now President Joe Biden’s infrastructure coordinator; Mary, who served three terms as a US senator, is now a policy advisor at a law firm in Washington. Madeleine became dean of the law school at Loyola University New Orleans, and Maurice a federal prosecutor.
Born Maurice E. Landrieu on July 23, 1930, he was known as Moon, a family nickname, throughout his life and eventually became his legal name. He served three years in the Army before opening a small law office, close to law school classmate Pascal Calogero, later chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Landrieu credits his wife, Verna, for pushing him into politics, and his Black classmates, including Norman Francis, who would become president and chancellor of Xavier University, for their expansion. eyesight.
“It’s not just a question of racial justice, but from a practical standpoint I realize – as a politician, as a legislator and councilor – that we have wasted too much talent, wasted too much energy, by excluding Blacks from every issue,” he recalled in a 2020 interview with New Orleans weekly Gambit.
“And I was determined, as mayor, to revitalize this city and bring about racial integration, so that the city can fully enjoy the benefits of whites and blacks.”