Creating Fine People through Fine Arts: SPS during the Civil Rights Movement

Part III of 5-part series on SPS history.

In the 1969-70 school year, St. Paul’s School added two new faculty members who were part of what laid the foundation for diversity in a time when such an ideal was virtually nonexistent.

That year, Judy LaCour became the first female lay teacher to teach core curriculum classes at SPS, joining the faculty to teach English and Speech. That same year, Roy Mouton became the first African-American teacher at the school, serving as Band Director and Fine Arts Department Chair.

LaCour and Mouton both did many things during their time at the school that affected the traditions of today. During that first year, LaCour established the theater program, which had active participation, and Mouton reinvented the band program into the “Southern Gentlemen” marching band, known more popularly today as the Marching Wolves.

image21

Judy LaCour brings a fresh perspective as the first lay female classroom teacher at St. Paul’s School.
(photo source: Conifer 1970)

For LaCour’s inaugural theater production, “The Montage of Time” was chosen. The play was viewed as very progressive given the time period.

According to LaCour, “Montage” was a great success and one of Louisiana’s first integrated plays. Written locally by a teacher at Rummel High School in New Orleans, the play discussed some very controversial topics in the area at that time, including war and racial issues.

With its local success, the program was invited to display their performance at a showcase of plays at Southern University in Baton Rouge.

“It was not received with open arms by the folks at Southern,” LaCour said. “We received threats, and the cast had to stay in the dorm with no security. But, the audience received it well, and it was written up in many publications.”

image13

Roy Mouton, the first African-American teacher at the school, revitalized the St. Paul’s band and established many of its current traditions.
(photo source: Conifer 1970)

Mouton also had an immediate impact on the culture of St. Paul’s. His contributions to the band program included changing the uniforms and shifting the band’s performance style from standard corps-style to the performance-style structure he had experienced at Southern University. He also shifted the style of music played by the band, incorporating a number of funk songs that were popular during that time period. Many of the dance moves and songs of the Marching Wolves’ current repertoire originated from his arrangements.

According to LaCour, Mouton and LaCour became great friends in those years from their mutual exclusion from the rest of the faculty.

“Both of us were ostracized in the beginning, which brought us very close,” LaCour said. “We used to joke that he was the token black and I was the token woman.”

LaCour also notes that due to their friendship, Mouton and his wife Freda decided to make LaCour the namesake of their daughter, Monique Judith.

•   •   •

Read more of Colin Rice’s five-part series on the history of St. Paul’s School.

Part I: Bankrupt Brothers – St. Paul’s Life in the Great Depression

Part II: World War for the Wolves – Life through the WWII Era

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3 Comments on “Creating Fine People through Fine Arts: SPS during the Civil Rights Movement”

  1. Judy LaCour
    October 25, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

    I am deeply moved by your article. Thank you for remembering a significant time in my life.

    Like

    • Colin Rice
      October 25, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

      You’re so welcome Mrs. LaCour! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Many Monuments of SPS: Meaning, Significance, Prominence | The Paper Wolf - November 23, 2016

    […] FSC. Built from scratch in the mid-90s by Bro. Alfred, along with St. Paul’s faculty member Judy Lacour and her husband Ken Lacour, the Signum Fidei Pavilion offers students a comfortable shaded area to […]

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