Monday, March 5, 2012

Scholars discuss 'Race and Rights in Louisiana'

Authors and scholars Thomas Aiello and Shannon Frystak discussed race and the Civil Rights movement in Louisiana this week as part of a panel on “Race and Rights in Louisiana: A Discussion of the Past and Present” at UL-Lafayette.
            The talk was sponsored by the Center of Louisiana Studies and UL Press; both authors contributed to the UL Press book “Louisiana Beyond Black & White: New Interpretations of Twentieth-Century Race and Race Relations,” edited by Michael S. Martin, Center and UL Press director.
            The focus of the panel was to examine whether Louisiana and its race relations and Civil Rights activities was different from any other place. Whereas many aspects mirrored the rest of the South, Louisiana was unique in some regards, the authors stated.
            Frystak’s research focused on women and their involvement toward racial equality and she found women in many leadership roles in New Orleans. Nine of the 11 original members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter in New Orleans were women, for instance.
            “In Louisiana, they were running projects,” Frystak said. “And that’s the not the case elsewhere.”
            Aiello studied the role of religion in the Civil Rights movement, encouraging participants not to look at any one aspect of race in a generalized way. He used the discord among the African American members of the Zion Traveler Church of Monroe in 1932 as an example of how religion wasn’t always the unifying aspect of the Civil Rights Movement.
            “These kinds of complications tend to be left out,” Aiello explained. “If you really want to see what’s going on, you have to look at these little examples.”
            “Louisiana Beyond Black & White” is a compilation of essays examining Louisiana’s race relations and “remind us that, for all its distinctiveness, Louisiana’s history mirrored much of what happened in other southern states,” the book states. Other contributors are Adam Fairclough, Susan Dollar, Justin Poché, John Kyle Day, Charles Pellegrin, Michael Wade and Greta de Jong.
            Frystak is also the author of “Our Minds on Freedom: Women and the Struggle for Black Equality in Louisiana, 1924-1967” and co-editor of the upcoming “Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times, Volume II.”’
            Aiello is also the author of “Bayou Classic: The Grambling-Southern Football Rivalry” and “The Kings of Casino Park: Black Baseball in the Lost Season of 1932.”

Francois publishes sequel to historical
            Lafayette author John Francois has published his fifth historical novel, “Pontiac,” the sequel to Francois’s “Carrier-of-Bones.” In his latest, returning characters Jean-Claude and Louis now find themselves half-dead when their clan family runs out of food before one of the worst winters on record is over. They must move to the Illinois country if they are to live through another such winter, for their tribal hunting grounds are depleted of deer or elk. The novel examines how the English treated their Indian allies after they helped the English win their war against the French and how Pontiac, the charismatic Ottawa chief, attempts to regain his leadership among the Ohio tribes and raise a second rebellion against the English, and of his ultimate end. Francois will be discussing “Pontiac” at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Empirical St. Landry Genealogical Society meeting at the south campus of the Opelousas General Hospital. He will also be signing copies at the next Author's Alley April 21 at the Lafayette South Regional Library. For more information, visit
Friends spring book sale this week at Heymann
            The Friends of the Lafayette Library will hold their spring book sale from Thursday through Saturday at the Heymann Convention Center Ballroom. Books will be sold by the inch and include a variety of subjects. For a small fee you can join the Friends and be admitted to the “Friends Members Only” night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For information, call 501-9209.

State Bicentennialincludes author talk
The Lafayette Public Library and the Alexandre Mouton House/Lafayette Museum will host speaker Jack D. Holden, co-author of “Furnishing Louisiana: Creole and Acadian Furniture 1735-1835” at 2 p.m. today at the museum, 1122 Lafayette St. in downtown Lafayette. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free; however, seating is limited. Refreshments will be served. This program is part of the Louisiana Bicentennial Celebration.

Teen poetry events at area libraries
            Northside Regional Library presents Teen Poetry Night beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the library. The event is for all young poets interested in joining the spoken word group, Project SOUND, for a night filled with reading, writing, and expressing through poetry. Sound Off! Spoken word performance by a celebration of the Project SOUND teens and a preview of the upcoming event at Festival International will be 5:30 p.m. Friday at South Regional Library.           

            Jonathan Franzen, author of the best-selling “Freedom,” will discuss his work and sign copies of his books at 7 p.m. Monday at Tulane University’s McAlister Auditorium in New Orleans.
            Sherry T. Broussard signs “African Americans in Lafayette and Southwest Louisiana” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday (during Second Saturday ArtWalk) at the Jefferson Street Branch Library in downtown Lafayette.
            New Orleans food writer Kit Wohl signs copies of “The James Beard Foundation’s Best of the Best” and her 2012 cookbook, “New Orleans Classic Brunches,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Books in New Orleans.
            Pelican Publishing has released “The Story Behind the Stone” by Robert Jeanfreau, a pictorial guide detailing the history of 40 New Orleans monuments, including many in the French Quarter. Jeanfreau will sign copies of his book at 3 p.m. Saturday at Maple Street Bookshop’s Healing Center location in New Orleans.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at