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.


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.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Big Problems With the Secret Service Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
Oct. 2 2014 12:10 PM Women of America, Here Are the Cities Where You Can Find Marriageable Men
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 2 2014 12:37 PM St. Louis Study Confirms That IUDs Are the Key to Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rates
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 12:04 PM The Audio Book Club Debates Gone Girl, the Novel
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:41 AM Dropbox Recruiting Video Features Puppets and Data Privacy
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?