|Louis Christopher Pendleton|
October 13, 1931|
Monroe, Ouachita Parish
|Died||January 14, 2007
Caddo Parish, Louisiana
|Resting place||Forest Park West Cemetery in Shreveport|
|Alma mater||Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry|
Civil rights advocate
|Political party||runoff candidate for the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1971|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Chocolate Pendleton|
Dr. Karen M'Liss Pendleton
|Parent(s)||Joseph Anthony and Velda Leola Long Pendleton|
Louis Christopher Pendleton (October 13, 1931 – January 14, 2007) was an African American dentist, businessman, and civic leader in Shreveport, Louisiana, who organized the civil rights movement in his city through the formation of the interest group known as "Blacks United for Lasting Leadership", which lobbied on behalf of racial justice.
Early years, education, military
Pendleton was born in Monroe, the seat of Ouachita Parish, to Joseph Anthony Pendleton, Sr., and the former Velda Leola Long. He was educated in the segregated public schools in Monroe. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the predominantly black Dillard University in New Orleans. Thereafter, he entered the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tennessee, which most black dentists in the American South then attended. He received the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.
In November 1956, Pendleton entered the U.S. Air Force with the rank of captain. He served for six years. He resigned his commission as a dental officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He and his wife, the former Barbara Chocolate (also born 1931), a Shreveport native, then took over the former dental practice of the civil rights activist, C. O. Simpkins, Sr., who left Shreveport when his life was threatened. Pendleton maintained the dental practice for forty-seven years. The Pendletons were married for fifty-two years and had two children, both doctors. Dr. Simpkins returned to Shreveport in 1988 and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1990. He was defeated in the general election by the white Republican Hazel Beard, a city council member and businesswoman from southwestern Shreveport. Thereafter, Simpkins served a term from 1992 to 1996 in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
Civil rights activism
In the early 1970s, Pendleton and other black leaders in Shreveport filed suits to establish single-member districts on the Caddo Parish School Board and the Caddo Parish Police Jury (the parish governing body, renamed the Caddo Parish Commission in 1984). As a result, blacks soon gained representation on both public bodies.
Pendleton and the late Shreveport attorney Hilary Huckaby, III, formed BULL, which sued in federal court to abolish the former commission form of municipal government. Under the five-member commission system, the council members were elected at-large. At the time, Shreveport was majority white—it became majority black in the 2000 census—and no blacks won any of the commission positions. When an executive mayor and legislative council system was adopted in 1978, blacks began to win seats on the seven-member single-member-district council.
Dr. Pendleton was appointed by the late U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson to the Louisiana State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, an investigative body formed through the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and guided to passage by then Senate Majority Leader Johnson. Pendleton served on the committee for more than a decade. Pendleton was also active in the Shreveport branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and organized the NAACP Youth Council.
Pendleton was the founder of a Shreveport-area committee which lobbied for the employment of African Americans in the broadcasting industry. Pendleton was also the first president of the Caddo Community Action Agency, the anti-poverty program created through the Johnson administration's Great Society. Pendleton worked with such black leaders as the late Alphonse J. Jackson, a Democraticformer member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, and the late Dr. Jesse N. Stone, Jr., to promote civil rights activities.
The Pendleton-Jackson alliance did not happen without effort. Jackson defeated Pendleton for the Democratic nomination for the House District 2 seat in the Louisiana legislature in a hotly contested runoff primary held on December 18, 1971. Pendleton in fact sued Jackson in a failed attempt either to reverse the results or to gain a new election.
Pendleton was a loyal Democrat. In 2004, he donated $500 to the presidential primary campaign of U.S. Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and another $500 to the Democratic National Committee in an effort to halt a second term for U.S. President George W. Bush.
Dr. Pendleton did not confine his activities to civil rights. He was also involved in education, health, business, culture, and housing in his community. His civic work also had the effect of expanding the opportunities for African Americans in northwest Louisiana.
Pendleton received a plethora of awards: foremost among his accolades were the Liberty Bell award by the Shreveport Bar Association in 1988 and the Business Leader of the Year award from the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce in 1990. In 1991, Dr. and Mrs. Pendleton jointly received the Brotherhood, Sisterhood Humanitarian award presented from the National Conference of Christians and Jews (renamed the National Conference for Community and Justice). That same year, he was inducted into the Junior Achievement of the North Louisiana Business Hall of Fame.
Pendleton's affiliations included the Pelican State Dental Association, the Northwest Louisiana Dental Society, the National Dental Association, and American Dental Association. He also served on the Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Board of Supervisors, the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, the Shreveport Housing Authority, and the Loyola University Foundation of Shreveport. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Louisiana State University at Shreveport Foundation, the Louisiana State Fair (held each autumn in Shreveport), and the Louisiana State Tourism Commission.
Pendleton died in the Schumpert Medical Center in Shreveport. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Joseph Edward Pendleton, Jr.; his in-laws, Leroy Chocolate (1908–1993) and Gennie V. Chocolate. Survivors included his wife; his daughter, Dr. Karen M'Liss Pendleton (born 1958); his son, Dr. Scott Edward Pendleton (born 1961) and Scott’s wife Mona Pendleton of Phoenix, Arizona; a sister, Harriet Pendleton Scott of New York City, who is married to New York State Supreme Court Justice Clifford Scott; two grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
At Pendleton's request and in his memory the dental office located at 1514 Gary Street in the heart of the predominantly black Lakeside-Allendale section of Shreveport will remain open under Dr. David Reed, who relocated to Shreveport from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. A foundation was established at J. P. Morgan Chase Bank in Pendleton's memory to assist aspiring science students. The family requested memorials to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, the Virginia K. Shehee Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, and the Community Foundation of Shreveport-Bossier.
Services were held at Pendleton's church on January 20, 2007. Interment was in Forest Park West Cemetery, 4000 Meriwether Road, under direction of Winnfield Funeral Home of Shreveport.
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