NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Tributes to former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu continue. He died Monday at the age of 92.
Some of Landrieu’s former employees say he understood the people he served, as well as the people he would be an asset to the city.
Tim Francis, the son of Norman Francis, says his father, who was the first Black person to graduate from Loyola Law School, was greeted by Landrieu, Pascal Calogero and Michael O’Keefe at the start of school.
Tim says Landrieu and the others told his father he had their support while earning a law degree in the 1950s.
“That was just sort of an amazing moment for my father, who showed up on a campus where he couldn’t stay in the dormitories, was an outlier but knew that there were three people there who were going to make sure that he had a good experience in law school,” Tim said.
Years later, Tim received that same support when he was a child.
In the late 1960s, Landrieu caught wind that Tim and his brother were kicked off a New Orleans baseball field because they were black.
“He told the people at Carrollton Boosters, ‘We’re shutting this playground down unless you integrate and allow African Americans to participate in sports at a public place, like Carrollton Boosters,” Tim recalled.
When Landrieu was elected mayor of New Orleans in 1970, he told voters he would have black people working in city hall, which is a promise he kept.
“It was a fish-or-cut-bait time for the City of New Orleans,” Robert Tucker, Jr., Landrieu’s former executive assistant, said. We were either going to go straight up or continue on a trajectory that was not moving us farther along as other municipalities were around the country.”
Tucker remembered the time former President Richard Nixon sent down some aides to discuss federal funds.
“They came in more in a more investigatory context than a review, and so as we were having a meeting in Moon’s office at the conference table, Moon threw him out of his office,” Tucker said. “After they left, I said, ‘Moon, those guys control our destiny with federal funds, and he just laughed. He said, ‘Anger is a tool that you use, pull it out of your toolbox only when you need it. We can make it up.'”
Another one of Landrieu’s first staff members, former New Orleans City Councilmember-At-Large Jim Singleton says Landrieu changed the environment in city government.
“He brought Black people into all phases of city government, whether it was working in city government, board and commission, and I think all of those things that he committed to do, and he followed through.”
Funeral arrangements have been announced Landrieu.
Visitation will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 10 at Holy Name of Jesus Church, followed by the funeral at 12:30 p.m., which will be open to the public.