Ernest Nathan MorialFebruary 10, 2016
Ernest Nathan Morial (1929-1989)
1st African-American Mayor of the New Orleans, LA
Ernest Nathan Morial is a member of the Omega Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Morial was an American political figure and a leading civil rights advocate. He was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans, serving from 1978 to 1986. He was the father of of Marc Morial, a subsequent New Orleans mayor. Morial, a native of New Orleans, grew up in the 7th ward. He attended Holy Redeemer Elementary School and McDonogh No. 35 Senior High School. He graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans in 1951. In 1954, he became the first African American to receive a law degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Morial attended summer school throughout his law school tenure in order to graduate as the first African American. Morial came to prominence as a lawyer fighting to dismantle segregation and as president of the local from 1962 to 1965. He followed in the cautious style of his mentor A.P. Tureaud in preferring to fight for civil rights in courtroom battles rather than through sit-ins and demonstrations. After unsuccessful electoral races in 1959 and 1963, he became the first black member o the Louisiana State Legislature since Reconstruction when he was elected in 1967 to represent a district in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood. He ran for an at-large position on New Orleans’ City Council in 1969-1970 and lost narrowly. In the election of 1977, he became the first African American mayor of New Orleans by defeating City Councilman Joseph V. DiRosa. He served this post until 1986. In 1992, the city of New Orleans named its convention center in his honor. He also served as the 23rd General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.