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July 2022


An Activist in the Family

          Our grandfather was never a person to back down from a “worthwhile” challenge.  Some might wonder why go against the general consensus?  Rev. William Henry Carr was ingrained with the ability to meet challenges, righting the wrongs.

          His first challenge was that of the lack of educational opportunities for the people of Verrett. There was no School Board, nor was there even a school within the boundary of Verrett.  If a school existed, the only students allowed to attend were  white children. Therefore, he decided it was time to stand up and be recognized. He tirelessly made known his request to Mr. W. S. Robertson, State Director of the WPA Education Program who contacted Mr. James H Crucher, notifying him that 22 persons were denied  an educational opportunity. He was further rejected by Harry A Norr, District Director, M. Kuchoff on February 23, 1940. He mapped out his strategy and approached the superintendent of schools for St. Bernard Parish face to face. He decided to request that Mr. Hatcher Amedee would be allowed to teach classes at night to those who wanted to attend. This idea did not set well with the superintendent and he was refused. But grandpa was determined and continued to request an institution for learning be established for the residents of this small village. Rejection did not deter his determination. And soon, the night school was established and lessons were taught twice a week by Mr. Robertson.

          When disaster struck the parish of Saint Bernard and the residents of Verrett were affected, He went directly to Sheriff C. H. Dutch Rowley for help. Sheriff Rowley gathered the families in the schoolhouse and asked what needed to be done. After hearing their pleas for help, the deputies were told to feed those in need.  Grandpa was chairman of a committee along with Bro. G. Jefferson and Bro. J Winesberry who were asked to list the names of each family member. These names were presented to the Farmers Local agent Mr. Batrow with authorization for him to provide supplies. The Red Cross personnel had left the area but that did not stop the effort started by these gentlemen. They refused to leave without food supplies. They received 100 pounds of sugar, 50 pounds of coffee, 50 loaves of bread and they received a “Relief Card for those not currently on relief for future supplies. They were given work permits for those needing work. They received Clothing, shoes, hats, belts, neckties, for distribution by Bro. Jefferson and Bro. Winesberry.

          Voting was always important to him. It was a way of making his voice heard among the masses. In an effort to prevent African Americans from voting, fees became mandatory. He was not deterred, instead he paid the fee and voted for his choice of candidate or referendum. Some of you may be doubtful of these events, but I have in my possession several receipts as proof. Equality was the main factor in his daily life. It was important that each person respected the boundaries of religious freedom, family, and the right to live and let live without infringing upon another. He made decisions that led to improvement of life for those within his family, his community and the church.

          He was not a college educated individual but, he was well versed and possessed the ability to read and write fluently. His father was well educated and instilled in his son the hunger for wanting better for himself and his family. His desire to have his friends and family possess the ability to write their name instead of making an X was of great importance to him. His thirst for knowledge was inbred through his ancestors. His ancestors helped to clear paths, and enlightened the minds of those in higher positions when we could not.  The past cannot be changed. But, it can be improved upon as we use the present to make a better future for the coming generations.

Yvonne Richard Sanchez

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