Lt. Governor Nungesser unveils Louisiana Civil Rights trail marker at the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum
Today, the Louisiana Office of Tourism unveiled the newest marker on the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail honoring the members of the 761st Tank Battalion during a ceremony at the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum in Pineville. Lieutenant Governor, Billy Nungesser was on hand for the unveiling.
“We are proud to tell this extraordinary story of the Louisiana Military Maneuvers during World War II and the brave men of 761st Tank Battalion who proved their worth during heavy combat from October 1944 through the end of the war in September 1945. This Louisiana Civil Rights Trail marker unveiling continues to recognize and bring to life Louisiana’s role in the modern civil rights movement,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.
From 1940 to 1944, Louisiana hosted a series of military maneuvers designed to train soldiers for all aspects of Army Ground Forces operations. The African American 761st Tank Battalion, an experimental unit just like the Tuskegee Airman, was formed at Camp Claiborne in 1942. Approximately, 75,000 black soldiers maneuvered in central Louisiana. The 761st was attached to many commands in Europe. Eight infantry divisions utilized this armored unit for direct support. As part of General Patton’s Third Army, its fighting ability became legendary and it acquired the nickname “Patton’s Panthers.”
By showing their prowess, this and other units proved the Army did not need segregated units. On July 21, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 desegregating the United States Army. The marker, commemorating the courage and bravery of the men in the 761st Tank Battalion is located at the front gate of the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum.
This unveiling is one of three taking place this month. The first marker was unveiled yesterday at the Tate, Etienne, Prevost Center – formerly known as McDonogh 19 Elementary School – in New Orleans. Later this month, a marker will be unveiled at the Robert “Bob” Hicks house in Bogalusa.
In 2021, the first series of Louisiana Civil Rights Trail markers were installed at Little Union Baptist Church in Shreveport, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans, and the Louisiana Old State Capitol and A.Z. Young Park in Baton Rouge.
The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail markers are placed in cities and towns across Louisiana depicting the significant role the state played in shaping American history during the 1950s and 60s and drawing attention to the courage and commitment of the leaders of the movement. The dynamic, life-sized Louisiana Civil Rights Trail markers provide a compelling interactive experience for visitors making them feel a part of the civil rights journey.