During World War II the need for raw materials stimulated the development of Louisiana’s mineral resources. A prominent feature of that development was the establishment along the Gulf Coast, as well as in other parts of the state, of huge chemical and petrochemical plants. Increasing mineral production and expanded industrial activity characterized the postwar decades as well. Many farmers, displaced by the mechanization of agriculture or simply seeking better opportunities, took jobs in such rapidly expanding industrial centers as Baton Rouge and Lake Charles. By 1950 the state’s urban population exceeded its rural population. Some farmers, especially blacks, left the state to move to large Western and Northern cities, especially Chicago, Illinois, and Oakland, California. Thousands of poor Cajuns and blacks migrated to the Golden Triangle area of southeastern Texas, taking jobs in the refineries and shipyards of Beaumont, Orange, and Port Arthur.
Between 1898 and 1954 racial segregation was required by law in all Louisiana public schools. Following the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education, declaring such segregation illegal, the state legislature passed a series of laws and resolutions designed to maintain segregation. When the federal courts declared these laws unconstitutional, integration began under court order in two New Orleans primary schools in the fall of 1960. Boycotts and rioting by whites that accompanied this initial integration received worldwide publicity.
Desegregation of Roman Catholic schools was begun in 1962 on order of the archbishop of New Orleans, who excommunicated several vocal opponents of his integration order. The first desegregation of the state’s public high schools occurred in 1963, and schools outside the larger cities were first desegregated in 1964.
The civil rights issue dominated Louisiana politics during most of the 1960s.
By 1971, however, the issue of equal rights for blacks seemed largely at rest. In the Democratic primary race for the governor’s seat, champions of the old white supremacy concept were overwhelmed by young candidates stressing racial harmony, an end to political corruption, and attention to Louisiana’s economic advancement. The general election between the Democratic winner, Edwin W. Edwards, and his surprisingly strong Republican opponent, David C. Treen, marked a return to the political styles and issues of the Long years, with Edwards as the flamboyant populist and Treen as the reformer. This was the posture of all elections for governor from 1971 to 1995. The 1971 election also marked a shift of political control from the predominantly rural and Protestant northern parishes to the more urban and Catholic southern section of Louisiana. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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