In many ways it was a typical New Orleans event. People from all over the city were gathered for the ribbon-cutting of the Tate-Etienne-Prevost Center. Leona Tate, Gail Etienne and Tessie Tate were all there, in bright red dresses, celebrating their triumph in the transformed McDonogh 19 Elementary School now restored as the Tate-Etienne-Prevost Center. The TEP Center is an antiracist educational and cultural center in the lower 9th ward, complete with classrooms, affordable senior housing, offices, and an interpretive center where everyone can come to learn about civil rights and community victories of the past 70+ years. Ms. Prevost’s 90-year-old mother was also at this celebration, recalling the deep fear – and pride - she felt when her husband took their 6-year-old daughter by the hand and headed to that neighborhood school – all white -- in November 1960, to begin the long journey to integrate New Orleans public schools.
It was hot. There was good food. And there were brass bands from nearby high schools. Community leaders and organizers, representing the decades since 1960, were on hand to celebrate, some of whom helped found the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. PISAB is a partner with Leona Tate in this venture. It’s national headquarters in the TEP Center represent the culmination – or recognition – of the 42 year life of one of the nation’s most significant anti-racist organization. Portraits of the six original trainer/organizers (Dr. Jim Dunn, Ronald Chisom, Barbara Major, David Billings, Rev. Daniel Buford, Diana Dunn, and Dr. Michael Washington) hang in the new PISAB office.