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

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
War Stories
Sept. 23 2014 4:04 PM The Right Target Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
  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.