H. Lawrence Gibbs

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Henry Lawrence Gibbs, Jr.
Louisiana State Representative from Ouachita Parish (now District 16)
In office
1952–1976
Preceded by Shady R. Wall
Succeeded by Jimmy Dimos
Louisiana State Senator from District 34 (Ouachita Parish)
In office
1976–1980
Preceded by Kenneth Dale Kilpatrick, Sr.

William Denis Brown, III (two members)

Succeeded by Lawson Swearingen
Personal details
Born (1919-03-07)March 7, 1919
Died April 10, 1993(1993-04-10) (aged 74)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) (1) Bobbie Regina Hibbard Gibbs (died 1969)

(2) Dorothy K. Gibbs (born 1921)

Children Kenneth L. Gibbs

Gary Dean Gibbs

Residence Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, USA
As a freshman legislator in 1956, Gibbs successfully passed a law forbidding racial integration at athletic events in Louisiana. The law led to cancellation of a football game contract between Louisiana State University and the University of Wisconsin.

Henry Lawrence Gibbs, Jr., known as H. Lawrence Gibbs (March 7, 1919–April 10, 1993),[1] was a Democratic member of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature, having served in Ouachita Parish from 1956 to 1980.[2] He was a state representative from now District 16 from 1956 to 1976, when he entered the Louisiana State Senate from District 34 for a final four-year term of legislative service.[3]

Background[edit]

Gibbs was first married to the former Bobbie Regina Hibbard (October 22, 1921–June 30, 1969), a native of Jacksonville in Cherokee County, Texas, the daughter of L. Jackson Hibbard and the former Lora Lexie Palmore.[4] The couple had at least two sons, Kenneth L. Gibbs (born 1955) and Gary Dean Gibbs (born 1957). After Bobbie's death, Gibbs remarried. The second wife is Dorothy K. Gibbs (also born 1921) of Monroe in northeastern Louisiana.[5]

Segregationist[edit]

In July 1956, Representative Gibbs sponsored legislation that would "outlaw social events and athletic contests including both Negroes and whites."[6] The House approved the bill, 71-0, with 34 members missing, and the state Senate also passed the bill unanimously. It was then signed into law by Governor Earl Kemp Long, who had returned for his third and final term in office. The law became a public issue when Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge forfeited a boxing match for Malcolm E. Buhler (born 1935) of Baton Rouge against the black fighter Orville Pitts of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[6]

According to Richard Carlton Haney in his book Canceled Due to Racism, the impetus for Gibbs's bill was probably the preceding Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans in January 1956, when the University of Pittsburgh brought a black fullback, Bobby Grier, for the game with Georgia Tech of Atlanta, Georgia. The new law jeopardized two scheduled football games between LSU and UW. The Tigers were set to play in Madison in 1957, and a second match-was to have followed in 1958 in Baton Rouge. Wisconsin was the only school with black players on the pending LSU schedule. Gibbs predicted that UW would have no alternative but to comply with his law or UW would lose revenue by not facing such a powerhouse team as LSU. Gibbs told the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison in an interview published on July 18, 1956, that "This will be a strong inducement for leaving their colored players at home." Instead, UW, saying it would not yield to racial injustice, cancelled the football contract with LSU.[6]

Other legislative matters[edit]

On other matters, Representative Gibbs sought during the 1960s to bring a medical school to Monroe. Instead, the former Confederate Memorial Medical Center in Shreveport was converted by the middle 1970s to a new medical school through LSU. Author Brady M. Banta attributed then state Representative J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., a Caddo Parish Democrat, with outmaneuvering Gibbs and the Ouachita Parish legislative delegation in procuring the medical school.[7]

Retired from the legislature, Gibbs died in Monroe at the age of seventy-four. He was succeeded in the Senate by Lawson Swearingen, a Democratic lawyer from Monroe who in 1991 became president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1880-2008". legis.state.la.us. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2008". legis.state.la.us. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Hibbard Family". hibbardfamily.com. Archived from the original on 2010-02-21. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  5. ^ People Search and Background Check
  6. ^ a b c "Doug Moe, "UW's stand against racism not forgotten", September 26, 2008". Coulee News, West Salem, Wisconsin. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Brady M. Banta, "Shreveport Gets a Medical School: Medical Education and Political Reality in Louisiana, 1950-1969"". JSTOR 4233341. 
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Shady R. Wall
Louisiana State Representative from Ouachita Parish (now District 16)

Henry Lawrence Gibbs, Jr.
1956–1976

Succeeded by
Jimmy Dimos
Preceded by
Kenneth Dale Kilpatrick, Sr.

William Denis Brown, III

Louisiana State Senator from District 34 (Ouachita Parish)

Henry Lawrence Gibbs, Jr.
1976–1980

Succeeded by
Lawson Swearingen