Moon Landrieu, a transformational New Orleans mayor who helped usher in the rise of Black political power at City Hall and whose passion for public service spawned a political dynasty, died Monday morning at his home in New Orleans, his family told our media partners at The Advocate/Times Picayune. He was 92.
A state legislator and City Council member during the tumultuous end of government-sanctioned segregation, Landrieu ascended to the mayor’s office in 1970 in part by promising to make jobs and other opportunities available to Black New Orleanians, the newspapers report.
He oversaw the completion of the Superdome and the reshaping of the Central Business District as skyscrapers and major hotels took root. And before moving on to a Cabinet post in President Jimmy Carter's administration and later to a state appeals court judgeship, he handed the keys to an integrated City Hall in 1978 to New Orleans’ first Black mayor, Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, starting a succession of African-American leaders interrupted only by his son, Mitch, who took office in 2010, the newspapers report.
Landrieu's daughter, Mary, was a U.S. Senator.
Here's what the governor had to say:
“Moon Landrieu was a courageous and defining voice for Louisiana and his beloved hometown of New Orleans. As a newly-elected member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, he was the only member to vote against a 1960 bill that sought to defy federal integration orders. He served with unwavering integrity throughout his long and storied career of public service — especially as mayor of New Orleans, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and judge for the Louisiana Court of Appeal. Moon was never afraid to be the man in the arena, and it’s because of his bold vision that we and millions of annual visitors are able to enjoy the iconic landscape of New Orleans as we know it today. In addition to his many contributions to our state and nation, he leaves behind the most enduring legacy of all – a family that continues his fight for equality. Donna and I are praying for his wife of nearly sixty-eight years, Verna, and all of his loving children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”
Governor Edwards has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on the day of the funeral.
Current Mayor LaToya Cantrell said this:
"The City of New Orleans mourns the passing of our former mayor Moon Landrieu. A civil rights trailblazer and dedicated public servant, Landrieu's urban policy vision helped shape this City, and the racial coalitions he built in the face of division continues to inspire generations.
"As intertwined with the City of New Orleans as anyone in her beloved history, Moon Landrieu has earned our most deepest gratitude, and we are comforted in the notion that his legacy will continue to live on. We are keeping the Landrieu family in our prayers."
To read the Picayune's full story, click here.