For decades, he fought for one thing: basic human dignity

For decades, he fought for one thing: basic human dignity

The legacy: The outdated man wasn’t so certain. Lolis Edward Elie, a black man who remembered being yelled at by police for having the gall to stroll via the whites-only Audubon Park as a younger boy, needed to assist struggle such injustices. His truck-driver father, nonetheless, was lower than encouraging of his son’s mental pursuits, so younger Lolis ended up as a service provider seaman. His conscience, and his braveness, would win out, and he would enroll within the then-newly built-in Loyola Regulation Faculty. That offered him with the instruments he wanted to play a key position in New Orleans’ civil rights motion, utilizing his authorized experience and his dedication to struggle on behalf of Freedom Riders, Black Panthers, lunch-counter protesters and others. His motivation was easy, in keeping with his son, Lolis Eric Elie: “He simply needed to assist folks.”

The artist: Sean Randall.

The quote: “I believe we made quite a lot of progress, however we’re nonetheless caught with the identical issues now that we had then. The worst drawback now we have is there is no significant training, and it is lots of hostility towards children. I imply, there aren’t any playground services on this complete group. No basketball objectives in Louis Armstrong park. That fence is there to maintain the little Louis Armstrongs out. And it is an insult.” — Lolis Edward Elie in 2013

Discover extra of Sean Randall’s work on-line at WhereYart.web and in particular person on the The place Y’Artwork gallery, 1901 Royal St.


Elie was born in Uptown New Orleans, the son of a truck driver — however the query is, when? For years, his birthday was considered Jan. 9, 1930, however the date on his beginning certificates is Feb. 9, 1928.
His first identify is derived from that of a trainer who got here to show in New Roads, the place his family lived for a time. It seems in a number of generations of his household and can be carried by his son, Lolis Eric Elie, a former Occasions-Picayune columnist.
Lolis Edward Elie attended highschool at Gilbert Academy, a Methodist highschool additionally attended by musician Ellis Marsalis and which was on the St. Charles Avenue web site occupied as we speak by De La Salle Excessive Faculty.
Along with his six-month stint as a service provider seaman, different early jobs included shining sneakers and delivering stationary.
He was drafted into the army service throughout the Korean Struggle the place a fellow GI named Frank D’Amico — a lawyer — satisfied Elie to go to regulation college.
He graduated from the then-newly-integrated Loyola Regulation Faculty and arrange a regulation apply with Nils Douglas on Dryades Avenue, which was on the time a bustling thoroughfare of companies frequented by black New Orleanians.
Elie’s first main foray into the civil rights struggle got here when he was employed to be the lawyer for the Louisiana Shoppers’ League, which had organized a boycott of Dryades Avenue companies, which on the time employed black job candidates just for janitorial positions.
From there, the protests moved to Canal Avenue and included lunch counter sit-ins in protest of segregation legal guidelines. In a single case, a white Tulane pupil protester was arrested and charged with legal mischief, which carried a potential 10-year jail time period. Elie and his companions enlisted the assistance of legal protection lawyer John P. Nelson to defend the scholar, finally taking the case to the Supreme Courtroom — the place they prevailed.
In 1961, when the Freedom Riders have been crushed and jailed, and a few of their buses have been bombed, Elie and others headed to Mississippi to assist win their freedom.
Elie additionally represented a younger Dutch Morial when, throughout a 1967 election that may make him the primary black member of the state Legislature since Reconstruction, a go well with was filed difficult Morial’s residency within the district he sought to characterize. As soon as extra, they prevailed.
Within the early 1970s, Elie signed on to defend a gaggle of native Black Panthers who acquired in a shootout with police, saying his shoppers have been “standing up for human dignity.” The defendants within the case have been finally acquitted.
One other group with which Elie labored was the civil-rights group CORE, or the Congress of Racial Equality. He discovered inspiration within the willingness of younger folks to danger jail, and worse, within the identify of their beliefs. “(It was) in some ways a non secular motion,” he as soon as stated, including: “I acquired braveness from them.”
For a time, Elie was a Civil District decide and an assistant district lawyer.
After 46 years of training regulation, he retired in 2005.
Lolis Edward Elie died in April 2017 on the age of 89.

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