Street dedicated to civil rights icon
“If the Lord calls me home tomorrow, at least my name won’t be forgotten”
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Civil rights icon the Rev. H. Calvin Austin III stood in a crowd of people Sunday as the City of Shreveport dedicated a street in his honor.
“If the Lord calls me home tomorrow, at least my name won’t be forgotten,” he said.
The 10900 block of Ellerbe Road is now named after Austin.
“There was an incident that happened in Shreveport at Little Union Baptist Church where the police converged upon the church in regards to a memorial service for four little girls who were killed in Birmingham. Pastor Harry Blake was beaten by the police,” Austin previously told KSLA News 12.
The year was 1963. And the next day, Austin was one of 18 students who marched from Booker T. Washington High School to downtown Shreveport. They were protesting the beating of the Rev. Harry Blake.
“That Monday, we gathered at the school. ... Somebody said, ‘Let’s go downtown.’ We started down Milam Street ... got down to the alumni building, which was the library back then, ... and police was everywhere,” Austin recalled.
He spent 45 days in jail and was expelled from Booker T. Washington High. Austin earned his high school diploma from a school in New Orleans.
“I’m alive because what I went through I ought to be dead and here I am now to see this and I don’t give nobody credit but God,” Austin said Sunday.
Earlier this year, the Shreveport City Council issued an official apology to Austin, members of Little Union Baptist Church and the Booker T. Washington High students for the brutal attack in 1963.
Now the City of Shreveport and members who represent the state are making sure Austin gets his roses by dedicating to him the block of Ellerbe Road right in front of his church.
“To honor him in this way speaks to our legacy,” Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor said. “And I told him I am because he did in a time when it wasn’t proper to go over here and speak about whites and African Americans he did.”
“if you look back on the history of Shreveport and what happened 60 years ago, (it) looks like we’ve come full circle,” Councilman Grayson Boucher said. “But we don’t ever want to forget the road that we traveled and use it as a road map to not make the same mistakes we made in the past.
Henry Whitehorn said: “A lot of folks don’t realize the challenges that we were facing during the time when Pastor Austin was a child and the struggles that he faced. I’m able to be who I am today because of people like him.”
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