THE ICON: Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial
THE LEGACY: In 1978, Dutch Morial made history, becoming the first black mayor of New Orleans. It was by no means his first “first,” though. Armed with a razor-sharp mind, political determination and a willingness to go to the mat for his beliefs, he had also reset the bar as the first black graduate of LSU Law School; the first black assistant U.S. attorney in Louisiana; the state’s first black legislator since Reconstruction; and the first black person elected to Louisiana’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. As impressive as those credentials were, his ascension to the top job at City Hall sent an undeniable message that a new day had arrived in New Orleans — and that Dutch Morial would be leading the charge.
THE ARTIST: Maddie Stratton, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “Many years ago, when I was a small boy, I daily passed a beautiful park near Elysian Fields Avenue. Children were always playing there in a kind of freedom that came to them naturally. But because of the laws of my childhood, I was allowed to do no more than look through the bars of the fence. I have never forgotten those bars. They stand forever in my memory as a symbol of a city divided against itself.” — Mayor Dutch Morial, in his first inaugural address, in 1978