U.S. Marshals Museum to Showcase Agency’s Role in Desegregation 

U.S. Marshals escort a 6-year-old girl to a New Orleans school in 1960. Photo: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Marshals Museum will feature a retrospective highlighting the agency’s involvement in desegregation. 

The event, The New Orleans Four and the Civil Rights Movement, is scheduled for March 5 in Little Rock, Ark.

The New Orleans Four refers to four 6-year-old Black girls who were enrolled at previously all-white elementary schools in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 1960. 

Two days later, following widespread boycotts and an exodus of white children from the schools, a race riot broke out during a meeting of the Orleans Parish School Board. 

Faced with death threats and racial slurs, the girls, Gail Etienne, Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, and Ruby Bridges, were escorted by marshals to their schools after the riot. A large crowd of angry protesters heckled the girls. 

Eventually, white parents allowed their children to return to school, and a decade later, the New Orleans public schools were fully integrated. 

The event includes a series of conversations and reflections about the experience, according to Kark.com. Three of the New Orleans Four are expected to attend, along with the last remaining deputy who escorted them. 

“The foundation of the plans the marshals used for desegregation in New Orleans and other parts of the South originated in the U.S. Marshals office in Little Rock, as they made plans for the school year following the desegregation of Central High School. It just seemed a natural fit to host the program there,” U.S. Marshals Museum Chief Programs Officer Leslie Higgins said.

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