Remembering Moon Landrieu Who Transformed New Orleans

OMoon Landrieu, a new Louisiana lawmaker, was accosted in an elevator by two strong old politicians. They pressed their hands into Moon Landrieu’s chest and threatened him with death if he votes against the racial segregation laws. He did and they didn’t. Landrieu formed coalitions to unite Blacks and Whites at a time in which George Wallace and other southern populists were turning the country racist.

Landrieu died on September 5, at the age of 92 from heart failure. He was pictured smoking a cigar and arm-twisting an assessor at a nearby bar. But during his career as a legislator, councilman, and mayor of New Orleans during the 1960s and 1970s, he led a historic transformation in the city’s race relations and became one of the tribunes of what became known, for a glorious but brief period, as The New South. With a feel for how to balance progress and preservation, he helped build the city’s downtown Superdome and protect the French Quarter and other historic neighborhoods, displaying an urban sensibility that he brought to Washington when he became President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Mary, his second-term U.S. Senator, was able to further his ideas. Senator, and his son Mitch, a two-term New Orleans mayor and currently President Biden’s infrastructure coordinator—and perhaps will be again by some of his 37 grandchildren.

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