- Clara Constantine Broussard
- Shirley Taylor Gresham
- Charles Vincent Singleton
- Martha Jane Conway Bossett
Clara Constantine Broussard
Her mother started it all.
Fifty years ago, Helma Constantine didn't think it made much sense that her daughter, Clara, had to leave home for a college education just because she was black.
Broussard was 21 years old when she started at Southwestern Louisiana Institute.
"It wasn't something that was easy," Broussard said. "It's nice to be recognized for what we did."
She stayed in school one year before she decided that she really wanted to go to beauty school.
She looks to her mother as the driving force behind the lawsuit and changing the course of the lives of the students that followed her. It is a strength she wants her grandchildren not to forget.
"I want them to know what their grandmother and great-grandmother did," Broussard said, turning to look at her mother. "She was so determined."
Shirley Taylor Gresham
Shirley Taylor was 19 when she first set foot on SLI's campus. She didn't think twice about the prejudice she would face.
"I wasn't thinking," Gresham said. "I just wanted an education and to register. That was it."
She attended the university for one year before she left to join the Army.
"I always wanted to be in law enforcement," she laughed, "but there was a height and weight requirement and I didn't have either."
While in the service, she was in the signal corps.
"I left as a sergeant," she said. She went on into the banking business where she retired after 40 years.
Friday was her first time back on UL's campus since she was a student. Today, she'll receive an honorary degree in humanities for her courage that first semester.
"It hasn't hit me yet," she said. "I am just so honored and pleased. They always say good things come at last. It's good to know that our fight was not in vain."