Dr. Lawrence Pijeaux (1997)

BCRI Oral History Collection
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00:00:00 - Introduction to Interview

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Dr. Lawrence J. Pijeaux, the Executive Director of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Lawrence Pijeaux is introduced

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--History--20th century

GPS: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Map Coordinates: 33.516200, -86.813870
Hyperlink: BCRI Homepage
00:00:44 - Family Background

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Partial Transcript: Where are you from?

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux states that he was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to a working-class Creole family with his parents and two younger siblings.

Keywords: Louisiana Creole language; New Orleans (La.); Working class--United States--History--20th century

Subjects: African American families

00:06:20 - Educational Background

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Partial Transcript: Tell me just a bit about your elementary school days.

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux describes his time at all-black elementary and high schools, where he was encouraged by several authority figures to pursue higher education. He also recalls how he would receive insults and racial slurs while he rode the bus to school.

Keywords: Segregation in education--United States

Subjects: McCarty Elementary School (New Orleans, La.); McDonogh 35 Senior High School (New Orleans, La.)

00:14:03 - Boycotts & Segregation in New Orleans

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Partial Transcript: I was involved cause our university was involved in some demonstrations.

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux states that the types of demonstrations that were happening in Birmingham were also taking place in New Orleans, which included selected buying strategies and sit-ins. He also recounts the times of sitting in segregated sections of the bus and in movie theaters.

Keywords: Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights; New Orleans (La.); Segregation in transportation; Selected Buying Campaign

Subjects: Boycotts; Segregation

00:18:01 - College Experiences

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Partial Transcript: Why did you make the decision to go to Southern New Orleans?

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux details how he began his college education at Southern University in New Orleans before transferring to Grambling State University. He then dropped out of Grambling, spent time traveling and as a professional waiter and bus driver before returning to college and becoming a teacher.

Keywords: Buchanan, Junious; Bus drivers; Food service employees; Harris, James Larnell; Jones, James C.; Reed, Willis, 1942-; Southern University in New Orleans

Subjects: African American college students; Grambling State University

00:26:10 - Teaching Through Desegregation

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Partial Transcript: That was my first goal to give something back to the community. To return as a teacher.

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux explains how he came to be a middle school art teacher at a school undergoing desegregation.

Keywords: Art teachers; Busing for school integration

Subjects: African American educators; School integration--United States

00:30:52 - Color & Class Consciousness

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Partial Transcript: Some people ask the question weather your Creole background assisted you in any way, or in New Orleans, Creole was either Black or White just like any place else?

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux expresses that in New Orleans, the perception of race was divided into binary categories of Black and white. Pijeaux also describes the stark differences of the perception of class in the school that he attended versus the school at which he taught.

Keywords: Esplande (New Orleans, La.); Rampart Street (New Orleans, La.); Suburbs--United States; White flight

Subjects: America--Race relations; Class consciousness

00:36:27 - Becoming a Principal & Receiving His Doctorate

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Partial Transcript: Now you stayed in education and you became a principal in New Orleans.

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux describes the various schools in which he taught, including Southern University in New Orleans, Eleanor McMain Secondary School. He became Assistant Principal and later Principal at McMain while also working on his Doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. He discusses major topics of his goals to effectively improve the conditions in public education.

Keywords: Assistant school principals; Eleanor McMain Secondary School (New Orleans, La.); Southern University in New Orleans

Subjects: African American school principals; Doctoral students

00:46:53 - Working in New Jersey & the Indianapolis Museum of Art

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Partial Transcript: You go from a southern city inner school system to an eastern city in New Jersey. What are the differences and similarities in terms of schools?

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux contrasts the schools in New Orleans and New Jersey. He remarks that he experienced more segregation & issues in the two and a half years he spent teaching in New Jersey than he did in the South. He then moved to Indianapolis and began working for the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Keywords: Indianapolis (Ind.); New Jersey

Subjects: African American art museum curators; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Segregation in education--United States

00:51:31 - Perspectives on the American Educational System

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Partial Transcript: Before we get too far in the field you are presently involved in as an educator, what happened with the education you've seen in the South, you saw it in the East during the period of time when we were in school during our generation.

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux reflects on how the educational system has changed in the past twenty to thirty years due to lower expectations for the younger generations. He states that the root of many issues in educational systems starts at the board level, which ideally should prioritize education, and that the attitudes in these areas affect all the administrations and the quality of education as a whole.

Keywords: School boards--United States

Subjects: African American children--Education; Critical issues in the future of learning and teaching

00:56:09 - The African American Museum Association & the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

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Partial Transcript: You would somehow find out about a position in Birmingham, Alabama.

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux details becoming a council member of the African American Museum Association and then the Executive Director of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. He emphasizes the importance of the Black community to be involved in the museum field.

Keywords: AAMA; Indianapolis Museum of Art

Subjects: African American Museum Association; Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.)

01:04:38 - Contributions to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

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Partial Transcript: What do you view is your major contribution since you've been here?

Segment Synopsis: Pijeaux states that his biggest contribution to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was bringing organization to the overall structure and functions of the Institute.

Keywords: Graves, Earl G., 1935-

Subjects: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.); Contributions in critical museology and material culture

01:07:36 - Conclusion of the Interview

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Segment Synopsis: Conclusion of Interview

Keywords: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.); Oral history interview