Today in New Orleans History

June 12

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Fannie C. Williams Dies
June 12, 1980

Fannie C. Williams, an educator, was born on March 23, 1882 in Biloxi, Mississippi. In 1904, she graduated from Straight College, a school that later merged with New Orleans University. In 1920, she received two degrees from Michigan State College, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Pedagogy.

When she returned to New Orleans in 1921, Williams taught at Valena C. Jones Normal School, a school established to train African American teachers and then certify them to work in the school system. She would later serve as principal of the school. She was instrumental in having a nursery and a kindergarten class established for African Americans in the public school system and established an annual child health day when medical professionals visited schools and performed their service free of charge.

Her influence extended beyond the Orleans Parish School system. She participated in three White House Conferences during the administrations of U. S. Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. Williams served as president of the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools and on the board of directors of Dillard University and Flint-Goodridge Hospital.

In 1977, she was the recipient of awards from the American Teachers Association and the National Teacher's Association. She died in 1980 at the age of 98. (NOPL)

Fannie C. Williams Charter School in New Orleans East is named for her.

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Gregory Michael Aymond, born in New Orleans on November 12, 1949, became the fourteenth Archbishop of New Orleans on June 12, 2009.

George Mondy was the first person of African American descent to be a member of the paid Fire Department. He opened the doors of professional firefighting to the African American citizens of our city in February, 1965. He retired in 1991 but was rehired to serve as Fire Supply Technician. This photo was taken while he was a Fire Apparatus Operator on June 12, 1967. (NOPL)

Born in New Orleans on September 24, 1871, jazz cornet and alto horn player Isidore John Barbarin was a mainstay of the New Orleans jazz scene in the decades around the turn of the 20th century. He learned to play the cornet at age 14, then played in various New Orleans brass bands including the Onward Brass Band, the Excelsior Brass Band, and Papa Celestin's Tuxedo Brass Band.  He can be heard today in a 1945 Bunk Johnson and a 1946 Original Zenith Brass Band recording.  Barbarin died in New Orleans on June 12, 1960. He left a New Orleans musical legacy; sons Paul, Louis, Lucien, and William as well as his grandson, Danny Barker.

Huey Long Filibusters
June 12-13, 1935

Described as "the most colorful, as well as the most dangerous, man to engage in American politics," Louisiana's Huey Pierce Long served in the Senate from 1932 until his assassination less than four years later. Today, visitors to his six-foot, eight-inch bronze likeness in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall see this master of the Senate filibuster captured in mid-sentence.

Long gave the Senate's official reporters of debates a Bible because his wife wanted the reporters to "take those supposed quotations you are making from the Bible and fit them into your speeches exactly as they are in the Scripture." She might also have suggested donating a copy of the U.S. Constitution, for he loved to quote his version of that document as well.

On June 12, 1935, the fiery Louisiana senator began what would become his longest and most dramatic filibuster. His goal was to force the Senate's Democratic leadership to retain a provision, opposed by President Franklin Roosevelt, requiring Senate confirmation for the National Recovery Administration's senior employees. His motive was to prevent his political enemies in Louisiana from obtaining lucrative NRA jobs.

Huey Long spoke for 15 hours and 30 minutes, the second-longest Senate filibuster to that time. As day turned to night, he read and analyzed each section of the Constitution, a document he claimed the president's New Deal programs had transformed to "ancient and forgotten lore."

Looking around the chamber at several of his colleagues dozing at their desks, the Louisiana populist suggested to Vice President John Nance Garner, who was presiding, that every senator should be forced to listen to him until excused. Garner replied, "That would be unusual cruelty under the Bill of Rights." Finished with the Constitution, Long asked for suggestions. "I will accommodate any senator on any point on which he needs advice," he threatened. Although no senator took up his offer, reporters in the press gallery did by sending notes to the floor. When these ran out, Long provided his recipes for fried oysters and potlikkers. At four in the morning, he yielded to a call of nature and soon saw his proposal defeated. Two days later, however, he was back, refreshed and ready to fight for a liberalization of a controversial new plan known as the Social Security Act.

Reference: Williams, T. Harry.  Huey Long.  New York: Knopf, 1969.  From

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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