Emmitt Douglas

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Emmitt James Douglas
Born (1926-10-14)October 14, 1926
Newellton, Tensas Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died March 25, 1981(1981-03-25) (aged 54)
New Roads
Pointe Coupee Parish
Louisiana
Residence New Roads, Louisiana
Alma mater

Tensas Rosenwald High School

Xavier University of Louisiana
Occupation

Businessman

Civil rights activist
Political party
Democratic
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Audrey Marie Daisy Douglas (1920–1991; married, 1949-his death)
Children Kordice Majella Douglas

Emmitt James Douglas (October 14, 1926 – March 25, 1981)[1] was an African-American businessman from New Roads, Louisiana, who served as president of his state's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1966 until his death.

Background[edit]

Douglas was born in Newellton in northern Tensas Parish in northeastern Louisiana to Samuel Frederick Douglas and the former Fannie Rose Armstrong. He was educated at the segregated since defunct black schools in Newellton and from Tensas Rosenwald in St. Joseph, now Tensas High School. He was a classmate of Andrew Brimmer, later the first African American named to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System. The institutions closed in 1970, when Tensas Parish public schools were desegregated.

Brimmer then attended the historically black Roman Catholic-affiliated Xavier University in New Orleans. Thereafter, Douglas entered the United States Army, where he reached the rank of master sergeant. From 1950–1952, he was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, and Fort Worth, Texas. Thereafter, he was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and a salesman for Southern Barber and Beauty Supply Company in Baton Rouge. On July 24, 1949, in New Roads, the seat of Pointe Coupee Parish, Douglas married the former Audrey Marie Daisy (1920–1991), daughter of farmer Thomas Daisy (1898–1975) and the former Lillian Pourclau (1897–1985).[1] The Douglases had one child, Kordice Majella Douglas (born 1955).[2] Kordice Douglas is a graduate of the Harvard Law School[3] and practices law in Baton Rouge.[4]

Douglas was active in Democratic politics at a time when his party dominated most of his native state. He headed the New Roads NAACP from 1965–1981 and served on the national board of the organization from 1967–1981. Governor Edwin Washington Edwards appointed Douglas to the Prison System Study Commission. He served in 1975 on the Commission on Judicial Compensation for City, Parish, and Municipal Courts. He was a member of the St. Augustine Catholic Church in New Roads, where he resided from 1949 until his death. He had lived in New Orleans from 1942–1946 and in Baton Rouge from 1946–1949. He was a district manager for Standard Life Insurance Company and Supreme Life Insurance Company and the proprietor of Douglas Barber and Beauty Supply Company and Douglas Fine Foods Grocery, both in Baton Rouge.[2]

NAACP activities[edit]

Douglas pushed to accelerate school desegregation, a gradual process completed in all sixty-four parishes by August 1970, including Douglas' native Tensas Parish, which is predominantly African American. In 1970, Douglas was arrested when he attempted to dine at an all-white establishment in Baton Rouge. The incident occurred six years after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Douglas retained as his attorney Murphy Bell, also a former NAACP state president.[5]

In 1976, Douglas quarreled at the national NAACP convention in Memphis, Tennessee, with executive director Roy Wilkins, who postponed his planned retirement from the organization by an additional year. Wilkins criticized certain board members as having conducted a "campaign of vilification" against him, questioning his integrity, health, and competence. Wilkins had threatened lawsuits against the offenders. Douglas took a microphone and rebuked Wilkins: "I resent allegations against board members unless they are named."[6] Douglas died at the age of fifty-four of a heart attack at New Roads General Hospital.[7] He and his wife are entombed at the St. Augustine Catholic Church Mausoleum in New Roads.[2]

Douglas is honored by the naming of the Emmitt J. Douglas Park on Tenth Street in New Roads.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Douglas, Emmitt Jame". A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  3. ^ Emmitt J. Douglas. The Crisis (NAACP newspaper), March 1980. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Kordice M. Douglas". kordice.com. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Civil-rights attorney Murphy Bell, 87, dies". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, June 14, 2008. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  6. ^ ""Races: A Leader's Dissonant Swan Song," July 12, 1976". Time, July 12, 1976. July 12, 1976. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Emmitt Douglas obituary". The New York Times, March 25, 1981. March 26, 1981. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Emily Holden, "Discussion on litter leads class to act". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, May 25, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2010.