The history of South Baton Rouge from antebellum America until the historic 2016 visit by President Barack Obama is the focus of a new book by LSU professor Lori Latrice Martin, PhD, and the Reverend Raymond A. Jetson.
South Baton Rouge, sometimes referred to as Old South Baton Rouge, was one of the first places Blacks could earn a high school education in Louisiana. The three-mile community around historic McKinley High School was the site of the nation’s first successful bus boycott. When laws restricted where Blacks could live, work, learn, and play, South Baton Rouge was a refuge.
Black-owned restaurants, theaters, gas stations, and other businesses populated the community, and change-makers–including Black lawyers, judges, clergy, educators, and nurses–helped to sustain the community and other portions of the southern half of Baton Rouge through the end of legal segregation and beyond.
The book, Images of America: South Baton Rouge includes over a hundred images of free people of color, historic businesses, faith-based institutions, political figures, the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, and the dedication of the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road at McKinley High School Alumni Center.
“As the city celebrates the 200th anniversary of its incorporation, we want to make sure that the history and contributions of Black communities, such as South Baton Rouge, are not forgotten,” said Martin.
She is associate professor of African and African American Studies and sociology at Louisiana State University, and Jetson, is pastor of Star Hill Church and CEO of MetroMorphosis in Baton Rouge.