SU student protests in 1960 led to big change in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE- In 1960, after sit-in demonstrations in Greensboro, North Carolina, students at Southern University in Baton Rouge began organizing their own demonstrations against segregation.
Marjorie Green was a 17-year-old freshman when she stumbled upon a large group protesting the arrest of students who had participated in sit-ins in the Capital City. She joined them as they marched down Scenic Highway and headed downtown.
"They were telling us get in line, make sure you pay attention, look straight ahead, and they were starting to move," said Green.
The group was organized by campus leaders, like student body president Marvin Robinson, to protest the unjust arrests of 16 students from the sit-ins. As they left the campus and moved toward Scenic Highway, Green said she could tell what they were doing was important as police escorted them downtown.
"We were pleased the police were there because we said 'Oh, that'll be fine,' but as we walked down Spanish Town Road, that's when I realized that something was not as pleasant as it should be."
When they reached the neighborhood, they were met by people living in the area who did not agree with their protest.
"They would say unkind things to us, they would throw things at us, they would spit at us. All kinds of things were happening, so that's when we knew something was not pleasant," she added.
The march pushed forward until protesters arrived downtown where it reached its peak and police dispersed them with tear gas.
"I can still taste it. I can still smell it," Green said. "It's something I'll never forget in my life: that kind of treatment of young people who were just trying to do something to help with the social change," she continued.
That wasn't the end of Southern University’s involvement in demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement, and according to Green, it was the beginning of something much greater.
"We were children when we started," she said. "When we got downtown and that started happening, as we marched we became young men and women, and it's something I'll never forget."