The Iberia African American Historical Society (IAAHS) unveiled the Howe Institute Historical Marker Saturday.
This new marker recognizes the Howe Institute which was established in 1888 to educate Blacks in New Iberia and the surrounding areas.
Howe also served as a temporary refugee camp for black citizens following the 1927 flood.
Before being under the control of the union 6th District Missionary Baptist Association.
Many Howe alumni went on to serve communities throughout Louisiana and the US with distinction. Howe’s longest serving and most successful principal was Prof. Jonas H. Henderson (1896-1933), according to organizers.
“I think that it shows our diversity; I think we’re adding a little trail if you will. And I think the more we can promote all of our history, the more of a tourist attraction we’re going to become, the more visitors we’re going to gain. The more it’s going to be good for our economy. As well as for our citizens and quality of life. Every community should know it’s history,” Mayor Freddie Decourt said.
The marker also recognizes Booker T. Washington's visit to Howe Institute on April 14, 1915, as part of his historic tour of Black schools in Louisiana.
Which sparked national attention and attracted thousands to the institution to see Washington speak.
“The fact that Booker T. Washington could bring together in an unprecedented way thousands of people across the color line that would line the streets and pack arenas to hear this incredible order, probably one of the most famous speakers in the world,” Keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Bieze said.
Dr. Bieze is an acclaimed art historian and Booker T. Washington scholar. His most recent work on Washington’s 1915 tour of Louisiana analyzes photographs from A. P. Bedou, Washington’s photographer.
While extensively studying this collection, Dr. Bieze identified a group of photos listed as taking place in New Orleans were mislabeled.
The photo of Washington on the stage speaking to a packed crowd dressed in their Sunday's best was actually taken in New Iberia at Howe Institute.
This historical marker is now the fourth to recognize Black history in the area.
Dr. Bieze says he’s currently writing a book about historically black institutions that is set to be completed next year.
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