December 24, 1989
Ernest "Dutch" Morial, the first black mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, died of an apparent heart attack in New Orleans at the age of sixty.
Morial was born in New Orleans on October 9, 1929. In 1954, he became the first black law school graduate of Louisiana State University. His public service career began in 1960 when he was elected president of the NAACP chapter in New Orleans. Working with fellow civil rights activist A. P. Tureard, he filed lawsuits against the city over segregation in public facilities and institutions.
In 1965, Morial became the first black assistant U.S. Attorney in Louisiana. Two years later, he became the first black legislator since the Reconstruction era. He served as a member of the State House of Representatives from 1967 to 1970, then became the first black ever elected to Louisiana's 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1973.
In 1977, on the strength of a huge black vote, Morial became the first black mayor of New Orleans. As mayor for two terms (a total of eight years), he had to deal with destructive floods in 1978, a police strike that crippled the city's annual Mardi Gras festival in 1979, and a financially troubled world exposition in 1984. Morial left office in 1986 following an unsuccessful attempt to change the city charter to allow the mayor to serve a third four-year term.
On the national scene, Morial had served as president of the National Conference of Mayors, a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and one of the key black advisors to the Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988.
Source Database: UXL Multicultural