The Postal Service employee who helped integrate New Orleans public schools as a child returned to her alma mater last month to mark a new beginning for the historic site.
Gail Etienne-Stripling was one of three African American first-grade students known as the McDonogh Three who integrated McDonogh 19 Elementary School in 1960.
The Tulsa, OK, mail processing clerk reunited with the other members of the trio, Tessie Prevost and Leona Tate, to break ground at their former school, which is slated to become a museum and cultural center and affordable housing complex.
Tate’s nonprofit foundation purchased the school, which had sat vacant since its closure in 2004, and is working with other organizations to redevelop the property.
The first floor of the redesigned facility, to be named the Tate Etienne Prevost Interpretive Center, will include an exhibit that examines the desegregation of schools, movie theaters and other businesses.
The NOLA.com news website covered the groundbreaking ceremony where the McDonogh Three spoke of their integration experiences.
“We stood our ground to not be distracted by the negativity of those around us,” Etienne-Stripling told Link in February. “We didn’t know we had become key participants in a movement taking place across the country.”