Viewpoint: Lusher parents send letter to school officials decrying ‘racism within our school community in matters symbolic, structural, and everyday’

The parents of students at Lusher Charter School sent a letter Monday (July 5) to the school’s Advocates for Arts -Based Education Board and the administration calling for a name change and for greater transparency. The action comes after a reported exodus of faculty members and the exit of Principal Steve Corbett, who is set to become CEO of Audubon Schools. The following was sent with the signatures 175 Lusher parents. Dear Members of the Board, LCS administration, and LCS Community,

We are parents of students who attend LCS, and collectively have decades of experience with LCS. We are dismayed with the administration and board’s response to student and faculty calls to confront racism within our school community in matters symbolic, structural, and everyday.

Palmer Park gets a new name: Marsalis Harmony Park

The City Council voted Thursday (July 1) to change the name of Palmer Park to Marsalis Harmony Park. The new name for the park, located where the Carrollton and Claiborne avenues meet, was chosen with input from community members, who eventually settled on “Marsalis Unity Park” at a meeting of multiple neighborhood associations early last month. “Marsalis Harmony Park” was the second most popular name discussed. Palmer Park was named after the Rev. Benjamin Palmer, a prominent Confederate and vocal defender of slavery. The park’s new name honors the late renowned jazz musician and educator Ellis Marsalis, whose family still lives in the neighborhood.

School superintendent proposes new names for Uptown school buildings

New Orleans school Superintendent Henderson Lewis has proposed names to replace school buildings named after slave owners and segregationists across New Orleans, including eight school buildings in Uptown neighborhoods. The superintendent’s recommendations were submitted to the Orleans Parish School Board, which will have the final say in a July 29 vote. This current renaming wave is one of many in the city’s history, as community members have advocated for name changes for decades. The Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 reignited the movement for schools named after slave owners or segregationists to be renamed. 

Orleans Parish School Board has the authority to change only the physical name on any school building they own. However, the charter boards of the schools within those buildings do not have to change the name of their academic program. 

Henry W. Allen 

Lewis chose musician and educator Ellis L. Marsalis Jr. to replace the Henry W. Allen for the school building at 5625 Loyola Ave.

‘Doors into Daydreams’ art exhibition brings bold color to Magazine Street (sponsored)

Uptown just got more colorful. Mason Dupré, a Louisiana native by way of St. Charles Parish and a current Uptown dweller, is excited to bring his work to historic Magazine St. The colorful new art exhibition, “Doors into Daydreams,” is currently being featured at 3701 Magazine Street until June 20th. The inspirational collection focuses on mental health, while bringing a vivid experience of life through the use of bright acrylics on large-scale, delicate glass panes.

Kingsley House changing its name in light of revelations about Charles Kingsley’s racist views

 

Kingsley House board members, senior leadership, elected officials and staff announced that the name of the 125-year-old nonprofit will be changed. The decision came after racist ideologies of Charles Kingsley, a Victorian-era British clergyman, author and social reformer, were discovered. The nonprofit is a social and human multi-service organization with a focus ranging from toddlers to seniors, Kingsley House officials say. Its main campus is in the Lower Garden District. Kingsley House CEO Keith Liederman said that he and others involved in the decision believe it’s important to dissociate the nonprofit from someone with contradicting viewpoints.

School Board takes steps to replace the Fortier name

The Alcée Fortier school building on Freret Street, now home to Lusher Charter School, will be renamed soon, according to NOLA Public Schools. 

Alcée Fortier High School closed in 2006, but Fortier’s name remains with the building that now serves as Lusher’s secondary school campus. The OPSB has the authority to change the outward facing name on any of its buildings but cannot change the school name, which is designated by the charter management organization. 

Lusher Charter School itself is named for Robert Mills Lusher, a Confederate official and fervent supporter of school segregation. A name change has long been discussed, but Lusher’s board, the Advocates for Arts Based Education, has not publicly stated whether it is considering a new name. Alcée Fortier, a late-19th and early-20th century writer, language professor and Tulane University administrator, was also known as a white supremacist. He praised the work of Robert Lusher and viewed public support for the education of White children as a means of fortifying White dominance, according to the NOLA-PS Renaming Committee. 

Fortier was among the White League fighters in the 1874 Battle of Liberty Place, an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the state government because of its commitment to racial equality.

Three names suggested to replace Robert Mills Lusher on the Willow Street school building

The Renaming Committee for NOLA Public Schools has proposed three names to replace Robert Mills Lusher for the building that houses Lusher Charter School’s elementary grades. 

The renaming effort by the Orleans Parish School Board and NOLA-PS applies to the buildings only, not the school programs. According to NOLA-PS, the OPSB only has the authority to change the outward facing name on any of its buildings. It cannot change the program name because charter schools are governed by their own boards and leadership. 

Renaming Lusher Charter School also has long been discussed within the community, but the board is silent on whether it is considering a name change. The building could take another name while the school itself keeps the name “Lusher.” Lusher Charter School and the elementary school’s building are both named after segregationist Robert Mills Lusher. While Lusher Charter has dropped the “Robert Mills” part of the name, it remains on the building.

Tulane researcher studying hate crimes against Asian Americans

From Tulane University

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a dramatic increase in hate crimes and other hateful incidents against Asian Americans, and a Tulane University researcher wants to gain a better understanding of these experiences. Irang Kim, an assistant professor in the Tulane School of Social Work, is teaming up with Xiaochuan Wang, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Central Florida, to gauge the extent of hate and hate crimes targeted at individuals of Asian descent and who self-identify as Asian American. They also want to study how these experiences affected their well-being in terms of resilience and coping strategies. As part of the study, Kim and Wang are conducting the “Asian American COVID-19 Experience Survey,” which is open to Asian Americans and Asian immigrants 18 years of age and older. The survey, available in English, Korean and Chinese Mandarin, takes around 15 minutes to complete and will be open through July 31.

Tulane study to examine role of racial injustice in design of memorials and monuments

By Barri Bronston, Tulane University

Researchers from the Tulane University School of Architecture and the School of Science and Engineering are embarking on a project that they hope answers questions about racial injustice and its impact on the design of urban spaces, monuments and memorials. The project, “Public Space and Scrutiny: Examining Urban Monuments Through Social Psychology,” won a 2020 SOM Foundation Research Prize, created by the architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill to advance the design profession’s ability to address the world’s most critical issues. “With fewer than one in five new architects identifying as racial or ethnic minorities, our profession has some catching up to do if we intend to reflect the public for whom urban spaces are designed,” said Tiffany Lin, an associate professor of architecture. “This project proposes a study of existing public spaces, monuments, and memorials through the lens of social psychology in order to establish a broader frame of reference for future design.”

Lin will be conducting the study with Emilie Taylor Welty, professor of practice at the School of Architecture, and social psychologist Lisa Molix, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the School of Science and Engineering. The team will use an interdisciplinary approach to study how members of the community react to public spaces and monuments that memorialize contentious historical figures and events.