This Pay Chart Shows Exactly How Louisiana Used To Discriminate Against Black Teachers

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Jan. 16 2013 12:30 PM

This Pay Chart Shows Exactly How Louisiana Used To Discriminate Against Black Teachers

The Vault is Slate's new history blog. Like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter @slatevault; find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

This chart was enclosed in a letter from then-NAACP Special Counsel Thurgood Marshall to New Orleans attorney Alexander Pierre Tureaud. The two civil rights lawyers were collaborating on a pay discrimination case, Joseph P. McKelpin v. Orleans Parish School Board (1941), which they filed more than 20 years before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the creation of the EEOC.

The document shows that before the settlement of this case, even the most educated and experienced African-American teachers and principals in this Louisiana school district couldn’t hope to earn the same salaries as their white counterparts. A black teacher with a B.A. degree and five years experience earned $1,356 annually; a white teacher with the same qualifications earned $1,512. A black teacher with a master’s degree and 11 years experience earned $2,056. A white teacher with identical qualifications earned $2,552—about 20 percent more. The chart is a stark reminder that segregation in the schools affected teachers’ working conditions, as well as students’ educational experiences.

Advertisement

After this case settled out of court by federal Judge Wayne Borah in 1942, black teachers’ pay rose over the next two years. (The line on this chart promising equal pay by 1943 seems to have been a promise that went unfulfilled.) In 1948, the legislature adopted a nondiscriminatory salary schedule.

Tureaud eventually filed similar cases addressing inequality in teacher salaries in 16 parishes across Louisiana. He also successfully fought to gain nonwhite students the right to enroll at Louisiana State University, represented a white student hoping to enter a historically black college, and defended sit-in protesters in the height of the civil rights movement.

Thanks to Andrew Salinas of the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 1:52 PM Julian Casablancas’ New Album Sounds Like the Furthest Thing From the Strokes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.