Friday saw the planting of a new historic plaque in the Claiborne Avenue neutral ground to honor Coretta Scott King, who advocated for a national holiday honoring her husband, Martin Luther King Jr.
According to Rev. Levon LeBan, president of the New Orleans chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which led the effort, the plaque is the first of several that advocates hope to erect in honor of underappreciated civil rights leaders.
The memorial was unveiled by U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and City Council member Oliver Thomas near Claiborne and Jackson Avenue. It is a block from Martin Luther King Jr.'s statue and near to a tiny civil rights rotunda.
SCLC is applying for a second marker to recognize additional civil rights "unsung women" LeBan said. The organization envisions a "SCLC walkway."
"Men did a lot of work, but the woman was always behind the scenes," said SCLC New Orleans board chair Florida Carr Hargrove. "We didn't get much recognition, but Jesus and we understood what we done. And we accomplished a lot."
The Louisiana Office of Cultural Development spent roughly $3,000 for the plaque, which commemorates Scott King's struggle to get her husband recognized. The memorial claims a measure to create a holiday honoring King "languished" in Congress for eight years until novelist and activist Scott King spoke and delivered a petition with over 600,000 signatures.
"This particular monument is a tribute not only to Coretta Scott King but to all of those who marched and demonstrated for a holiday for Dr. King," said LeBan.
King visited New Orleans many times, including the inaugural gathering of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at New Zion Baptist Church in Central City in February 1957. The new group's president was King, and numerous executives were from Louisiana. The month before that meeting, King spoke at the North Roman Street Coliseum Arena in New Orleans.
New Orleans was one of the first major U.S. communities to observe MLK Day in 1978.
This story was first reported by Nola.com. Read it here.