DONALDSONVILLE, LOUISIANA– Louisiana is a wealth of culture. In celebrating black history month, I am very often surprised by how much Louisiana has to offer for the black and proud and creole. Here is a bit of a history lesson:
In 1868, Pierre Caliste Landry was elected to become the Mayor of Donaldsonville, Louisiana. Landry was born on the Prevost plantation as a slave, but allowed to live as a free person of color. His future was bright because he became the first African American to be mayor of any U.S. town or city.
Pierre Landry was certainly fruitful by biblical standards, having had 14 children. Landry was a man who believed in education and all of his children were highly educated. One of his sons, was named Lord Beaconsfield Landry. Lord Beaconsfield Landry, was born March 11, 1879. He recieved a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University in 1902. He then enrolled in the doctoral program of Meharry Medical College, in Nashville, Tennessee. Meharry College educated young black physicians to provide medical care to free men and women of color. Lord Beaconsfield Landry would then take his expertise of healthcare, to bring up the people in the Algiers community of New Orleans, Louisiana.
One day I decided to pursue some culture and my travels led me across the river to Algiers. Tyrone Casby is no stranger to culture. Has served as an educator and interim principal to L.B. Landry-O.P. Walker College and Career Preparatory High School. He has also masked as Big Chief of the Mohawk Hunters, tribe of Mardi Gras Indians in Algiers. Chief Casby says, “Dr. Landry was a prominent physician that was in the Algiers community over the years and because of him and the work that he did with the community and individuals in the community, they decided to name Landry High School after him.” L.B. Landry High School was the first school in Louisiana to be named after an African American. It opened in 1938 as a school for blacks. In 2013, L.B. Landry High School merged with O. Perry Walker College and Career Preparatory High School and Community Center. On April 27, 2018, the Freddie Marshall Foundation and L.B. Landry New Generation Historic Alumni Association erected a marker in front of the school to commemorate Landry’s achievements.
“He came into a community and saw a need and he met it. Colored people at the time, we were not allowed to go to too many hospitals and a lot were not even open. Algiers was a poor community,” says Chief Casby.
Chief Casby says the Beaconsfield Landry legacy is yet alive because his work is still being done, through the St. Thomas Health Clinic, a low-income facility that provides some treatment to those who can’t afford it.
Chief Casby admires Dr. Lord Beaconsfield Landry saying, “what better way to serve than with education as well as a medical facility; a spirit that was started by Dr. Landry.”