Rev. Avery Caesar Alexander
June 29, 1910 - March 5, 1999
Rev. Avery C. Alexander was an important leader in the struggle for civil rights for black Louisianians. He was born Avery Caesar Alexander on June 29, 1910 in Terrebone Parish, LA. By 1927, seven years after his father's death, the family relocated to New Orleans. He gained his high school diploma in 1939 from Gilbert Academy where he had taken night classes. He studied at several universities and graduated from Union Baptist Theological Seminary. He was ordained into the ministry in 1944.
In 1975, Rev. Alexander was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives holding that office until his death.
Louis ArmstrongAugust 4, 1901-July 6, 1971
Daniel Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century. He was born in a ghetto to Willie and Mary Ann Armstrong. His musical career began at age twelve when he was sent to the Waif's Home for Boys after being arrested for firing a gun on New Year's Eve. While there he learned to play the cornet and to read music from Peter Davis, the home's drill instructor and bandmaster. After his release he took lessons from a local cornetist, Joe "King" Oliver.
Israel Meyer Augustine, Jr.November 16, 1924-August 29, 1994
Israel Augustine, Jr., the first African American district judge in Louisiana, was born in New Orleans. A graduate of McDonogh 35 High School he received a B. A. from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He obtained his law degree from Lincoln University in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1951, he was admitted to the Louisiana Bar and in 1962, he was allowed to practice before the Supreme Court.
In 1970, Israel M. Augustine, Jr. became the first Black elected as judge in Criminal District Court. In 1971, he presided over the Black Panther Trial, a case that brought him national attention. A champion of the people, Augustine established several community programs such as "Roots" Home Coming Program, the First Offender and Angola Awareness.
Reverend Abraham Lincoln "A. L." DavisNovember 2, 1914-June 25, 1978
Abraham Lincoln Davis was a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the first African American city councilman in New Orleans. He was born in Bayou Goula, Louisiana and moved to New Orleans in 1930 to live with a sister and attend high school. Reverend Davis graduated from McDonogh 35 High School, received his B. A. degree from Leland College and his theological degree from Union Baptist Theological Seminary. He became the pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in 1935 where he became known as the Rev. A. L. Davis. He served as pastor of New Zion for forty-three years.
In 1957, Rev. Davis and a group of civil rights activists met at New Zion to organize the SCLC. The group chose as its first president Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Davis became its first vice president. In 1975, he was elected to the City Council.
Rural Black Doctors
Dr. John H. Lowery, a very prominent doctor in Ascension Parish and born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, received his medical degree from New Orleans University in 1894.
Ulysses Grant Dailey- Was born in Donaldsonville in 1885. Dailey assisted the well-known African American Dr. Daniel Hale Williams with the first successful open heart surgery.
Ernest Nester Ezidore – One of the first students to attend Southern University, Ezidore served both black and white patients during the time of segregation; in the St. James parish rural community.
Louisiana Black Inventors
Leonard Julien, Sr. was born in 1910 in Modeste, Louisiana. His great love for farming; combined with a lifelong ambition to improve agricultural production, lead to his invention of the sugarcane-planting machine. Learn the amazing story of this incredible inventor and see his actual invention.
Madame C. J. Walker – Born in 1867 on a cotton plantation in Delta, Louisiana in Madison Parish, to enslaved parents, she was orphaned at the age of seven and at the age of twenty, became America’s first female self-made millionaire. Come discover why.The museum collection includes photographs and original documents from the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company & Beauty School and actual graduation certificates.
Alvin Batiste – A native of Donaldsonville, Batiste began drawing at the age of three and he has become a world-renowned self-taught artist. Discover the works of this artist who reflects different themes of the African American culture and life captured from his observations and experiences in the rural South.
Malaika Favorite – An acclaimed poet, artist and author was born in Geismar, Louisiana. “I learned to do without what I didn’t have and to use what was there.” The River Preacher, painted on an 8’ x 4’ roof tin, is a featured mixed media work of art in the museum collection. Malaika's art can also be seen at Hambonz in downtown Donaldsonville.
Michael Smith - The folk artist known as Louisiana’s “toothpick sculptor"; Michael’s Jug of Faith captivates young visitors who try to figure out Michael’s method of sculpting a toothpick church in an uncut wine bottle.