On April 26, 2011, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus held a rally on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge to protest Gov. Bobby Jindal's cuts to higher education. The most urgent matter on the minds of the speakers was Jindal's push to merge Southern University of New Orleans with University of New Orleans, SUNO with UNO.
The event was hosted by the Southern University System and called an S.O.S. Day at the Legislature. SUNO is a historically black university, and while African Americans fought for integration and the right to attend the University of New Orleans years ago, many in the African American community still believe that SUNO and the Southern University System serve a need for students of color that the state's historically white colleges and universities cannot.
Senator Cynthia Willard-Lewis (District 2) speaks passionately in the video, invoking the name of Frederick Douglass, and Senator Edwin R. Murray (District 4)follows her. He urges rally participants and everyone else to contact their legislators and let them know that they do not support the merger nor do they support cuts to higher education, k-12, and hospital services.
As of May 9, the Times Picayune is reporting the following:
"A bill to merge the University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans continued moving through the Legislature Monday, when a second House committee gave its approval despite uncertainty about how much it will cost the state. "You may watch the full video of all the speeches at the Orleans Parish School Board's Vimeo page.
The video on this page also includes music and pictures related to the history of African American literacy and education in America. I had not planned to make the video, but I changed the TV channel accidentally on the remote while I was under the weather in bed Tuesday morning, heard Cynthia Willard-Lewis's fiery speech, and the next thing I knew, I was putting something together.