Jesuit Celebrates Black History Month
By Louis Bercaw ’22, News Editor
As a part of honoring Black History Month this February, Jesuit High School brought in two alumni to talk about the integration of black students and the stories of black alumni.
After a brief introduction by Samuel Schlafer ’25, Mr. Mat Grau ’68 and Mr. Brandon Gregoire ’91 gave a luncheon presentation on February 9 about Jesuit’s efforts at racial integration.
Mr. Grau is a former Jesuit employee, having worked as both an English teacher and an administrator. He grew up during the end of segregation and, in one instance, even experienced prejudice for being around a black friend of his.
Mr. Gregoire is a Jesuit alumnus who served for several years in the United States Marine Corps, most notably as an Advisor of Defense to Congress.
Mr. Gregoire began the presentation with an overview of segregation in America citing both Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education in a concise yet thorough explanation of the life of a black man through the fifties. Mr. Grau then followed with a summary of segregation in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, particularly Archbishop Joseph Rummel’s contributions by banning segregation at all church events.
At Jesuit, key organizations such as the Commission on Human Rights, a group of alumni who formed to end segregation, and SERINCO, the Southeast Regional Interracial Community, raised funds for integration campaigns and raised awareness about the issue. Additionally, Sodality collaborated with others around the city to discuss issues about segregation, and the Blue Jay Newspaper addressed the topic more frequently in publications.
Since Jesuit’s integration in 1962, many black students have gone on to have great careers, such as doctors, lawyers, politicians, and many others. “Integration,” as Mr. Grau said, “was another step in making Jesuit a greater school, for the greater glory of God.”