SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – Civil rights icon Reverend H. Calvin Austin III stood in a crowd of people Sunday as the city of Shreveport dedicated a street in his honor.

“If the Lord calls me home tomorrow, at least my name will not be forgotten,” he said.

The 10900 block of Ellerbe Road now bears his name.

“There was an incident which occurred in Shreveport at Little Union Baptist Church where police converged on the church in regards to a memorial service for four little girls who were killed in Birmingham. Pastor Harry Blake was beaten by the police,” Austin previously told KSLA News 12.

It was 1963. And the next day, Austin was one of 18 students who marched from Booker T. Washington High School to downtown Shreveport. They were protesting the beating of Reverend Harry Blake.

“That Monday, we met at school. … Someone said, ‘Let’s go downtown.’ We started on Milam Street…we went down to the alumni building, which was the library at the time,…and the police were everywhere,” Austin recalls.

He spent 45 days in jail and was expelled from Booker T. Washington High. Austin graduated from high school at a school in New Orleans.

“I’m alive because what I went through I should be dead and I’m here now to see that and I don’t give credit to anyone but God,” Austin said on Sunday.

(Source: Tayler Davis/KSLA News 12)

Earlier this year, the Shreveport City Council issued a formal apology to Austin, the members of Little Union Baptist Church and the students of Booker T. Washington High for the brutal 1963 attack.

Now the city of Shreveport and members who represent the state are making sure Austin gets his roses by dedicating the block of Ellerbe Road directly across from his church to him.

“Honoring him in this way is a testament to our heritage,” Councilor Tabatha Taylor said. “And I told him I am because he did it at a time when it wasn’t proper to go out here and talk about white people and African Americans he did.”

“If you think back to the history of Shreveport and what happened 60 years ago, (it) seems like we’ve come full circle,” Councilman Grayson Boucher said. “But we never want to forget the road we’ve traveled and use it as a roadmap to not make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past.

Henry Whitehorn said, “Many people don’t realize the challenges we faced when Pastor Austin was a child and the struggles he faced. I am able to be who I am today thanks to people like him.

Copyright 2022 KSLA. All rights reserved.


Source link