Filed Under:  Local

Activist, leader Dyan ‘Mama D’ Cole, 72, dies

30th May 2017   ·   0 Comments

By James Sebastien
Contributing Writer

New Orleans activist Dyan Hamilton French Cole, widely known as “Mama D,” passed away on May 20. She was 72.

Cole was a community leader, and a frequent fixture at New Orleans City Council meetings, where she routinely challenged elected officials on their decisions she believed to be questionable.

When news broke about the departure of Dyan French Cole, Facebook lit up with condolences and remembrances: “Thank God for your wisdom and wise words you shared with me.” “Mama D, Rest in Paradise, you were a soldier til the end!” “She will be sadly missed but never forgotten.”



The outspoken advocate never tired or wavered in the fight for her community, for those who have been treated as insignificant and left to fall through the cracks. While, not a person of tall stature, Mama D stood as a giant against the unjust issues that plague the Crescent City.

In her decades of battling for racial equality, Dyan Cole broke through many barriers. She also made history back in the 1970s, when she became the first woman to become president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP (1975-76).

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Cole and a crew she dubbed the Soul Patrol, canvassed neighborhoods throughout the city helping people in desperate need of human compassion and love.

Mama D was never one to shy away from speaking her mind to any elected official. On one occasion she stated, “If I had a ride, I’d go Uptown and tell Mitch Landrieu that the Bible tells you how to treat your neighbor.”

After a lifetime of calling for action, fighting for one cause after the next, Cole finally saw the city make strides to eradicate symbols of oppression, only to pass the day following the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee., the final of the four monuments slated to be taken down by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Upon the loss of Dyan Cole, Landrieu recognizing the importance she held to the city released this statement: “I am saddened to learn of the death of Dyan French Cole, affectionately known to many New Orleanians as Mama D. She was a longtime community leader who advocated for quality housing, recreation, and justice. Mama D is best known for her support of Stallings Gentilly Playground and serving as the first female President of the New Orleans Chapter of the NAACP. On behalf of the people of New Orleans, I extend my deepest condolences to her family.”

Cole is survived by her son, Byron S. Cole; sister, Audrey H. Jackson; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her Funeral Service was held at the Historic 2nd Baptist Church (2505 Marengo Street) last Friday (May 26). Cole was laid to rest on May 27 at the Providence Memorial Park Cemetery (8200 Airline Dr, Metairie, LA 70003).

The Dyan H. French Cole Memorial Fund has been established at Liberty Bank and Trust for those who wish to contribute, as Cole died without insurance.

This article originally published in the May 29, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.