Calhoun Allen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr.
Mayor of Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
In office
1970–1978
Preceded by Clyde E. Fant
Succeeded by William T. "Bill" Hanna
Shreveport Public Utilities Commissioner
In office
1962–1970
Preceded by L. E. "Ed" Phelps
Succeeded by William A. "Bill" Collins
Personal details
Born (1921-02-08)February 8, 1921
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died February 23, 1991(1991-02-23) (aged 70)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Republican-turned-Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Mary Miller Allen (married 1948-1975, her death)

(2) Jacqueline Spell Schober Allen

Children L. Calhoun Allen, III

Frances Olivia Allen
Two stepchildren:
John K. Schober
Lisa Schober Smith

Alma mater C. E. Byrd High School

Centenary College of Louisiana

Occupation Businessman
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Captain
Battles/wars World War II

Korean War

Mayors Clyde Fant, James C. Gardner, and L. Calhoun Allen at a property tax renewal campaign in Shreveport City Hall in the summer of 1971

Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr. (February 8, 1921 – February 23, 1991), was a two-term Democratic mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, the state's third largest city. From 1962-1970, he was the municipal public utilities commissioner. He also served some two months as a "District B" city council member after his election in the fall of 1990. The racially moderate Allen presided over a formerly segregated Shreveport, but there was much unrest in the black community during his tenure. Public Safety Commissioner George W. D'Artois had resigned in a swirl of corruption accusations though none reached directly to Allen. By the end of Allen's tenure, City Hall controversies produced a sense of stagnation even though Allen had worked for industrial development and public works projects, one of which bears his name.

The Allen family heritage[edit]

Allen preferred to use the first initial "L", rather than the unusual name "Littleberry." He was "Calhoun Allen" or "L. Calhoun Allen, Jr.," to the public, not "Littleberry Allen" or some other combination. "Littleberry" had been his grandfather, who was born in Virginia in 1862 and had relocated to Alabama and then to Shreveport near the end of the 19th century. Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Sr., who used the designation "L. C. Allen", was a businessman, a Shreveport city council member, a grand master of the Masonic lodge, and a Baptist, who staunchly opposed liquor use and sales to the extent that he would support Prohibition Party causes and candidates, rather than the heavily favored Democratic nominees. L. C. Allen established what became Allen Manufacturing Company and Caddo Lumber Company. Littleberry Allen had a son, L. C. Allen, Jr. Littleberry Allen died of Bright's disease early in the 20th century. Therefore, L. Calhoun Allen was really L. Calhoun Allen, III, but he used "Jr.," instead because his contemporaries did not know his grandfather as "L.C. Allen, I." And Calhoun Allen named his son "L. Calhoun Allen, III".

Allen, a Shreveport native, graduated in 1938 from C. E. Byrd High School in Shreveport. For a time, the Episcopalian Allen attended Roman Catholic-affiliated Tulane University in New Orleans. However, he graduated from the Methodist-affiliated Centenary College in Shreveport. He also attended Louisiana State University Law School in Baton Rouge. He was associated with Allen Construction Company until he became utilities commissioner in 1962.

32-year Navy veteran[edit]

Allen served in the United States Navy from 1943-1946 (World War II service) and again from 1950-1954 during the Korean War. He retired with the rank of captain from the U.S. Naval Reserve after more than three decades of total service. He was a former member of the Council of the Navy League of the United States, the Naval Reserve Association, and the Reserve Officers Association. Allen was a past commander of the Lowe-McFarland American Legion post in Shreveport. And he was chairman of the naval affairs committee of the Louisiana American Legion.

Republican campaign for Congress, 1956[edit]

In 1956, Calhoun Allen was a 34-year-old Republican, a supporter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's reelection, and his party's candidate for the Fourth Congressional District seat long held by the popular Democrat Overton Brooks.

Allen's campaign was directed by his friend, Shreveport businessman and civic leader Charles T. Beaird (1922–2006), who earlier in the year had been elected as a Republican on the Caddo Parish Police Jury (later the Caddo Parish Commission). Political advertising showed World War II veterans Eisenhower and Allen shaking hands and outlined their points of similarity. Allen stressed the need for two-party politics and said that the one-party South could benefit from an infusion of Republicanism. He attacked Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, as "radical" in nature, while Eisenhower, he said, was "moderate on civil rights."

Congressman Brooks, who had served since 1937, endorsed Stevenson. Brooks told voters that he had "always been a Democrat and am too old to change now." Allen questioned Brooks' constituent services. He asked why there was inadequate postal service in Springhill in northern Webster Parish. Roy Fish, a Springhill attorney and then the chairman of the Webster Parish Republican Party, said that Brooks appeared to be attempting to coast to victory "on the coattails of both parties." Clem S. Clarke, the Shreveport Republican oilman who had challenged the election of Democrat Russell B. Long to the U.S. Senate in 1948, declared in an Allen advertisement: "We need a Southern Republican." Allen also won some Democratic support but not nearly at the level needed to win the election.

In addition to the Allen campaign, Louisiana Republicans in 1956 offered a congressional candidate in the Second District, which then encompassed parts of Orleans and Jefferson parishes. He was George R. Blue, an attorney. Attracted to Blue's candidacy but still a Democrat was a young Metairie attorney, David C. Treen, who would later become the first Louisiana Republican to win a seat in Congress and to hold the governorship as well.

Eisenhower easily won Louisiana in 1956, the first Republican presidential victory in the state since the disputed election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. He led in 43 parishes and polled 329,047 votes (53.2 percent) to Stevenson's 243,977 (39.5 percent). The States' Rights Party of Louisiana received 44,520 votes (7.2 percent). Stevenson ran nearly 100,000 votes behind his showing in Louisiana four years earlier.

In the Fourth District House race, Brooks won every parish and defeated Allen easily, 40,583 (68.1 percent) to 19,041 (31.9 percent). Allen's strongest support was in his native Caddo and in neighboring De Soto Parish, where he received 34.6 and 34.5 percent, respectively. Brooks' margins were even greater in the parishes of Bienville, Claiborne, Red River, Bossier, and Webster.

In the Second District, popular incumbent Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., defeated George Blue, 69,715 (64.5 percent) to 38,344 (35.5 percent). Like Allen, Blue would later switch to the Democratic Party. Whereas Allen became a city commissioner and then mayor and even later city council member, Blue was elected in 1964 to an at-large seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives from Jefferson Parish.

Election as mayor, 1970[edit]

Allen served eight years as the elected public utilities commissioner under the former Shreveport commission form of government. He would tout those eight years of municipal experience when he launched his first mayoral campaign in 1970. Incumbent Democrat Clyde Edward Fant, Sr., was stepping down after five nonconsecutive terms as Shreveport mayor in part because of health considerations.

Allen won a lopsided victory in the Democratic primary over KEEL radio general manager Marie Gifford (1917-2004), a native of Oklahoma who stressed downtown revitalization and civil rights.[1] Then Allen defeated Edward Leo "Ed" McGuire, Jr. (1914-1983), originally from Massachusetts, the son-in-law of Shreveport Judge Thornton F. Bell, and the first Shreveport Republican since Reconstruction to contest the mayoralty position. Along with Billy Guin and the late Joel B. Brown, McGuire had been one of the first three Republicans in the 20th century to have been elected to the Caddo Parish School Board, having served from 1964 until 1970. Allen's margin over McGuire was by landslide proportions, 63-37 percent. He forged a winning coalition of blacks, blue-collar whites, and local businessmen that would dominate Shreveport politically for most of the remaining years of the 20th century. Elected with Allen in 1970 were Public Safety Commissioner George W. D'Artois, Public Utilities Commissioner William A. "Bill" Collins, Public Works Commissioner Donald E. Hathaway, and Finance Commissioner Dwight Saur.

Not until 1990 did a Republican, Hazel Beard, win the mayor's race. When she stepped down after a single term in 1994, another Republican, Robert Warren "Bo" Williams succeeded her. Williams was then unseated by the Democrat Keith Paul Hightower in 1998.

At least one prominent area Republican, Tom Colten (1922–2004), the mayor of Minden in Webster Parish, welcomed Calhoun Allen's victory and cited the candidate's impressive background and experience. Colten was winning a second term as a "nonpartisan" Republican at the same time that Allen was first elected mayor as a Democrat.

Allen led his city during a time of transition and racial moderation. The city population grew, particularly the mostly white outlying residential areas. And new industry came to Shreveport, but critics said it was never sufficient to provide jobs for all who sought work. In time, blacks became the majority of Shreveport's population and a political force of immense proportions within the municipality. Caddo Parish, as a whole, however, remained majority white.

In 1971, a Republican, George A. Burton, Jr., won a special election in Shreveport for the vacant position of finance commissioner. A Certified Public Accountant, Burton proved competent in the position and ran again in the regular 1974 elections. That year, he had the tacit support of "independent" Mayor Allen, who swept to an easy reelection. Burton polled 17,488 votes (68.8 percent), while the Democrat (later Republican) David R. Carroll (1926–2011), a Mississippi native and a Caddo Parish police juror,[2] received 7,938 ballots (31.2 percent). Burton's running mate, Billy Guin, polled 43.7 percent in his second contest—the first was in 1970—against incumbent Democratic Public Utilities Commissioner William "Bill" Collins, who had succeeded Allen in the position. Guin, the former school board member, a civil engineer and a businessman, also entered a special election for utilities commissioner in 1977, when Collins resigned the post. Guin won with 51 percent of the vote and served the remaining year and a half of Collins' second term. He implemented many reforms in the department and then ran unsuccessfully in 1978 as a Republican candidate for mayor under the new form of city government.

In 1976, Allen joined neighboring Mayor James L. Cathey, Jr., of Bossier City in hosting U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., in a question-and-answer session for local officials. Ford at the time was in Louisiana campaigning against former Governor Ronald W. Reagan for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination.[3]

Allen did not seek a third term in 1978, although he was eligible to have done so. Several factors are believed to have contributed to his decision to step down: (1) troubles in public utilities department, which Guin had largely rectified, (2) an ill-fated plan to purchase new city water meters, and (3) his tenure as a full-time city official had already reached 16 years.

In 1978, Shreveport changed from the commission system to the mayor-council single-member district format with term limits. The newly elected mayor, Democrat William Thomas "Bill" Hanna, a former automobile dealer who defeated fellow Democrat Don Hathaway, hence exerted executive powers to a "legislative" council of seven members, where a divided 4-3 vote could often prove decisive. Hanna was elected as the "reform" candidate.

Allen's legacy[edit]

In addition to his political activities, Allen was a strong civic leader. He was a member of the Louisiana State Fair Board, chairman of the State Fair Stadium Commission, and a commissioner of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. He was vice president of the Red River Valley Association, which pushed successfully for the navigation of the Red River south of Shreveport to the junction with the Mississippi River. He was a vice president of the Louisiana Municipal Association, chairman of the Shreve Area Council of Government, and a member of the Shreveport Airport Authority and the Parks and Recreation Council. He was a past president of the executive board of the Norwela Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Allen was also a member of the ArkLaTex Ambassadors, Holiday in Dixie, Kiwanis, Joppa Lodge, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks.

When he vacated the mayoralty, Allen became the coordinator for planning and development of Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport, having served in that capacity from 1979-1988. Allen even staged a brief political comeback in 1990, when he won one of the single-member council seats under the mayor-council form of government. He served only a few weeks, for he died soon thereafter of a sudden illness in the Schumpert Medical Center in Shreveport.

Allen was twice married. In 1948, he wed the former Mary Miller. From the marriage were born a son, L. Calhoun Allen, III, then of San Antonio, Texas, and a daughter, Frances Olivia Allen. The marriage lasted until Mary's death in 1975. Thereafter, Allen married Jacqueline Spell Schober and acquired two stepchildren, John K Schober and Lisa Schober Smith.

Services for Mayor Allen were held at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Shreveport. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport. It was noted in humor that Allen was Episcopalian, his grandfather was Baptist, and Allen attended a Catholic university and graduated from a Methodist college.

Allen was honored by the L. Calhoun Allen Exposition Hall on the Clyde Fant Parkway. The facility was part of the Red River convention complex but was considered too small for conventions but suitable for gun shows and similar events. The acoustics were undesirable for concerts. The facility was hence renamed StageWorks of Louisiana.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marie Battey Gifford Wright". findagrave.com. Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ "David R. Carroll obituary". Shreveport Times, July 27, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Daily Diary of President Gerald R. Ford". fordlibrarymuseum.gov. April 27, 1976. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
Preceded by
L. E. "Ed" Phelps
Public Utilities Commissioner of Shreveport, Louisiana

Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr.
1962–1970

Succeeded by
William A. "Bill" Collins
Preceded by
Clyde E. Fant, Sr.
Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana

Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr.
1970–1978

Succeeded by
William Thomas "Bill" Hanna
Preceded by
Dee Peterson
Member of the Shreveport, Louisiana, City Council (District B)

Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr.
1990–1991 (two months)

Succeeded by
Cecil Lloyd