Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

Let’s Save L. B. Landry’s Legacy…

9th December 2013   ·   0 Comments

Something very disturbing happened in my community in August 2013. Two high schools allegedly became one; a merger took place between L. B. Landry (LBL) and O. Perry Walker (OPW). However, the supposed merger became a takeover. What has essentially happened is that OPW is operating out of LBL’s facility. THAT IS NOT RIGHT!

My family tree goes as far back as the early 1800s. Murray C. Henderson, the man whom I was named after, was born in Algiers, La. in 1883. I too was born and raised in Algiers, Louisiana. In 1909, Murray Henderson opened what became the first black-owned business in the Algiers community. The business is named Murray Henderson Funeral Home and still serves the community today. He was a very prominent figure in the community who provided a service to others, particularly assisting those in need. In 1958, an elementary school was also opened in his honor. Therefore, I have a vested interest in what takes place in the Algiers community.

Murray Henderson and Lord Beaconfield Landry were friends. L. B. Landry was a physician, community activist and musician. Dr. Landry and Murray Henderson were two pioneers that were very instrumental in assisting African American families in need. Many times, these two men would render their services for little or no cost at all. Their help in time of need provided compassion and was a source of strength for the entire community.

Presently many American families do not have medical insurance or burial insurance and it was the mission of these two men to help families whenever possible. Dr. Landry made many great contributions in the Algiers community and in 1938 a school was opened in his honor. That school was Lord Beaconfield Landry Junior/Senior High School. L. B. Landry was a school born out of pride and caring for the community.

Now 75 years later, we are allowing his legacy to die.

I am pleading and challenging members of this community, particularly those with ties and vested interests in the L. B. Landry School, to not allow this to happen. This certainly would not have happened in any other community, and it should not happen in ours!!! I encourage all L. B. Landry Alumni, and also the alumni of other Historically Black High Schools (HBHS) in the metropolitan area to join us in rectifying this error. Today, I call upon the following Louisiana Athletic Interscholastic Literary Organization (LAILO) schools, W. L. Cohen, B.T. Washington, McDonogh #35, J. S. Clark, G. W. Carver, St. Augustine, Xavier Preparatory, Lincoln and Gilbert Academy alumni to unite in making certain that the necessary steps are taken to make this right.

The LAILO was the league that the HBHS participated in before the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) allowed them to compete in their league. In 1970 the LHSAA started allowing the LAILO schools to compete in their association. The LAILO schools were academically and athletically GREAT schools because they had caring and committed teachers that took pride in themselves and in their students. Let’s not allow what our ancestors fought so hard to achieve be taken away.

I welcome O. Perry Walker students; they are our siblings, children, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors. So, we welcome the opportunity to join with the Walker students and build a union that will continue the Landry legacy. A union of these two schools should reflect the history and commitment to the community that led to the creation of the L. B. Landry School. Since the new school was built on the original L. B. Landry site, it would seem natural for the schools name to remain L. B. Landry, and for its colors to remain blue and gold, and for its mascot to remain the Buccaneers. Let’s not allow L. B. Landry’s legacy to die or any other of the aforementioned schools above.

– Murray Henderson

This article originally published in the December 9, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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