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Rev. Avery C. Alexander

University Medical Center Honors Legacy of Rev. Avery C. Alexander, Respected Civil Rights Leader in Louisiana

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We are proud to honor the legacy of the Rev. Avery C. Alexander—a respected Civil Rights and community leader who served in the Louisiana Legislature for more than 20 years. His statue stands in the Galvez Street courtyard. In 1993, he led a group of protesters in New Orleans to the Liberty Monument, a stone obelisk monument that celebrates the 1874 victory of the White League in New Orleans. He continued his fight for civil rights until his death at the age of 89 on March 5, 1999.

Fighting for equality

Born Avery Caesar Alexander on June 29, 1910 in Terrebonne Parish, he relocated to New Orleans with his family in 1927. He was ordained a minister in 1944—the same year he was allowed to register to vote. His unwavering fight for civil and human rights extends back to the 1920s during his days as a longshoreman. A lifelong member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Rev. Alexander traveled statewide participating in voter registration drives in the years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. In New Orleans, he helped to organize several boycotts against businesses to hire black people for jobs above the "broom and mop" level. He also led a successful boycott against New Orleans Public Service, Inc. to hire the first black bus drivers.

Rev. Alexander participated in marches with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. including the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and the first and second marches on Washington. He also was involved in sit-ins to integrate lunch counters across New Orleans. In one incident, during a sit-in being held at the eating facilities of City Hall, he was arrested and dragged by his heels up the steps from the basement of that building. Films of that event became well-known nationwide.

Taking the fight to Washington

Rev. Alexander was also a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention and to the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention of which he was elected vice president. He served as treasurer of the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP and was president of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 1975, Rev. Alexander was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives (Democrat, District 93) holding that office until his death. During his life he was also a real estate broker, insurance agent and longshoreman, becoming the manager of the longshoreman's welfare system from 1958-1962. In 1990, he established the Church of All People, a non-denominational ministry.

University Medical Center honors Reverend Alexander

To honor his legacy and lifetime of work on behalf of the sick and poor, the State Legislature named Charity Hospital the "Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital." In 2012, the Legislature approved honoring Rev. Alexander's name at the new medical center. An eight-foot statue of Rev. Alexander, called "The Crusader" stands sentry in the Galvez Street courtyard, another lasting tribute to this central figure in New Orleans history.