Douglas coat of arms      
This page was last updated on 07 February 2014

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

 

 

Index of first names

Emmitt James Douglas

 

 

Emmitt DouglasEmmitt James Douglas (October 14, 1926 – March 25, 1981) was an African-American businessman from New Roads, Louisiana, who served as president of his state's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1966 until his death.

Douglas was born in Newellton in northern Tensas Parish in north-eastern Louisiana to Samuel Frederick Douglas and the former Fannie Rose Armstrong. He was educated at the segregated since defunct black schools in Newellton and from Tensas Rosenwald in St. Joseph. He was a classmate of Andrew Brimmer, later the first African American named to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System. The institutions closed in 1970, when Tensas Parish public schools were desegregated.

Brimmer then attended the historically black Roman Catholic-affiliated Xavier University in New Orleans. Thereafter, Douglas entered the United States Army, where he reached the rank of master sergeant. From 1950–1952, he was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, and Fort Worth, Texas. Thereafter, he was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and a salesman for Southern Barber and Beauty Supply Company in Baton Rouge. On July 24, 1949, in New Roads, the seat of Pointe Coupee Parish, Douglas married the former Audrey Marie Daisy (1920–1991), daughter of farmer Thomas Daisy (1898–1975) and the former Lillian Pourclau (1897–1985). The Douglases had one child, Kordice Majella Douglas (born 1955). Kordice Douglas is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and practices law in Baton Rouge.

Douglas was active in Democratic politics at a time when his party dominated most of his native state. He headed the New Roads NAACP from 1965–1981 and served on the national board of the organization from 1967–1981. Governor Edwin Washington Edwards appointed Douglas to the Prison System Study Commission. He served in 1975 on the Commission on Judicial Compensation for City, Parish, and Municipal Courts. He was a member of the St. Augustine Catholic Church in New Roads, where he resided from 1949 until his death. He had lived in New Orleans from 1942–1946 and in Baton Rouge from 1946–1949. He was a district manager for Standard Life Insurance Company and Supreme Life Insurance Company and the proprietor of Douglas Barber and Beauty Supply Company and Douglas Fine Foods Grocery, both in Baton Rouge.

Douglas pushed to accelerate school desegregation, a gradual process completed in all sixty-four parishes by August 1970, including Douglas' native Tensas Parish, which is predominantly African American. In 1970, Douglas was arrested when he attempted to dine at an all-white establishment in Baton Rouge. The incident occurred six years after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Douglas retained as his attorney Murphy Bell, also a former NAACP state president.

In 1976, Douglas quarreled at the national NAACP convention in Memphis, Tennessee, with executive director Roy Wilkins, who postponed his planned retirement from the organization by an additional year. Wilkins criticized certain board members as having conducted a "campaign of vilification" against him, questioning his integrity, health, and competence. Wilkins had threatened lawsuits against the offenders. Douglas took a microphone and rebuked Wilkins: "I resent allegations against board members unless they are named."

Douglas died at the age of fifty-four of a heart attack at New Roads General Hospital. He and his wife are entombed at the St. Augustine Catholic Church Mausoleum in New Roads. he is honoured by the naming of the Emmitt J. Douglas Park on Tenth Street in New Roads.

REMEMBERING MR. EMMITT J. DOUGLAS--MY MENTOR

IN THE EARLY 1980'S I WAS INVITED TO SPEAK TO THE NEW ROADS BRANCH OF THE NAACP AT THE INVITATION OF MR. ROOSEVELT GREMILLION, PRESIDENT OF THE NEW ROADS BRANCH

MR. ROOSEVELT GREMILLION, MEMBERS OF THE DAIS, AND SPECIAL GUESTS, I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE YOU A CHRONOLOGY OF MR. DOUGLAS AS I REMEMBER IT.

1. I FIRST MET EMMITT DOUGLAS IN NEW ORLEANS AT THE V.A. HOSPITAL IN 1956 WHEN I WAS THERE. HE CAME WITH MY SISTER GLORIA MOORE TO SEE ME.

2. IN 1959 OR SO DOUGLAS GAVE A BEAUTY SHOW AT THE RHYTHM CLUB, THE BEST SHOW EVER TO COME TO BATON ROUGE. IT WAS SPONSORED BY SOUTHERN BARBER & BEAUTY SUPPLY.

3. SOUTHERN BARBER & BEAUTY SUPPLY SUPPLIED THE STATE OF LOUISIANA AND PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI.

4. ON OR AB0UT 1963 OR ‘65 DOUGLAS ASKED THE OWNER OF THE SOUTHERN BARBER & BEAUTY SUPPLY FOR A PARTNERSHIP IN THE BUSINESS. SOUTHERN BARBER & BEAUTY SUPPLY WAS OWNED BY A WHITE MAN. EMMITT D0UGLAS HAD BUILT THE BUSINESS FOR THAT WHITE MAN; THE OWNER REFUSED TO LET D0UGLAS BECOME A PARTNER.

5. IN 1966 OR ABOUT DOUGLAS CAME BY MY HOME TO SEE MY SISTER, MS. GLORIA MOORE, WHO HAD A BEAUTY SHOP AT HER HOME WHICH DOUGLAS HAD ENCOURAGED HER TO OPEN. DOUGLAS TOLD HER IN MY PRESENCE THAT HE WAS GOING TO LEAVE SOUTHERN BARBER & BEAUTY SUPPLY AND GO INTO HIS OWN BUSINESS, AND HE ASKED HER IF HE DID, WOULD SHE SUPPORT HIM. SHE SAID YES.

6. THE NEXT' THING WE KNEW, DOUGLAS HAD RENTED A SPACE IN A BUILDING ON SOUTH BLVD. HE NAMED HIS BUSINESS DOUGLAS BARBER & SUPPLY. DOUGLAS WAS ON THE MOVE.

7. ABOUT TWO YEARS LATER, DOUGLAS HAD LEASED THE WHOLE BUILDING. HE HAD A BEAUTY SUPPLY, A GROCERY STORE, AND HE GAVE EXCESS SPACE TO THE BATON ROUGE BRANCH OF THE N.A.A.C.P. OFFICE AR0UND 1968.

8. IN 1969 EMMITT DOUGLAS, AS STATE PRESIDENT OF THE N.A.A.C.P. AND DOCTOR D’ORSAY D. BRYANT, PRESIDENT OF THE BATON ROUGE BRANCH OF THE N.A.A.C.P., LED A DEMONSTRATION, BOYCOTT, AND PICKETTING OF THE POLICE DEPT, AND WHITE BUSINESSES IN BATON ROUGE BECAUSE OF POLICE BRUTALITY AND A NUMBER OF KILLINGS OF BLACK, FLEEING FELONS BY THE BATON ROUGE POLICE DEPT. AFTER THOSE DEMONSTRATIONS AND RIOTING, DOUGLAS WAS ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH INCITING TO RIOT AND OTHER UNSPECIFIED CHARGES. MR. ROOSEVELT GREMILLION LEDTHE MARCH TO DOWNTOWN BATON ROUGE.

9. IN 1970 DOUGLAS WAS FOUND GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS AT HARD LABOR IN THE STATE PENITENTIARY AT ANGOLA. ATTORNEY MURPHY BELL AND A LAWYER FROM THE NATIONAL OFFICE OF THE N.A.A.C.P. REPRESENTED EMMITT DOUGLAS AND FILED THE APPEAL.

10. ON OR ABOUT 1975 EMMITT D0UGLAS‘ GUILTY VERDICT WAS OVERTURNED. THE JUDGE THAT TRIED DOUGLAS, JUDGE DONOVAN PARKER, CAME TO DOUGLAS’ OFFICE AND PERSONALLY APOLOGIZED. THE REST IS HISTORY.

11. EMMITT DOUGLAS WENT ON TO MAKE DOUGLAS BARBER & BEAUTY SUPPLY A MILLION DOLLAR ENTERPRISE. DOUGLAS BROUGHT MANY YOUNG BLACK MEN & WOMEN FROM NEW ROADS TO WORK. I WILL NOT TRY TO NAME ALL OF THEM--I MIGHT MISS ONE. WITH THE YOUNG BLACKS FROM BATON ROUGE AND NEW ROADS DOUGLAS HAD A TOTAL OF TWENTY-SOMETHING EMPLOYEES WORKING IN HIS ENTERPRISES CONSISTING OF TWO GROCERY STORES AND THE BARBER AND BEAUTY SUPPLY HOUSE THAT COVERED ALL OF L0UISIANA, PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI, AND TEXAS. HIS PAYROLL WAS CLOSE TO A QUARTER OF A MISSION DOLLARS.

12. IN 1980 DOUGLAS AS STATE PRESIDENT HAD A MEMBERSHIP DRIVE FOR THE BATON ROUGE BRANCH OF THE N.A.A.C.P. AS A RESULT OF HIS EFFORTS, I WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE BATON ROUGE BRANCH.

13. AGAIN IN 1980, THE BATON ROUGEBRANCH OF THE N.A.A.C.P. WON A LAWSUIT AGAINST EAST BATON ROUGH PARISH SCHOOL BOARD AND THE STATE OF LOUISIANA, A DESEGREGATION LAWSUIT THAT WAS FILED BY THE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND AND THE N.A.A.C.P. IN 1965.

14. IN 1981 EMMITT DOUGLAS, DOCTOR D’ORSAY BRYANT, ATTY. ROBERT WILLIAMS, OTHER MEMBERS OF THE BOARD AND I WERE IN FEDERAL DISTRICT C0URT IN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO SETTLE THIS SUIT. AFTER A WEEK OR TWO, MEETING DAY AND NIGHT, I GOT A CALL EARLY ONE MORNING THAT MR. EMMITT DOUGLAS HAD DIED.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS STATE HAD LOST A GREAT LEADER; AND I HOPE AND PRAY THAT SOMEONE WILL COME AND PICK UP THE TORCH.



EMMITT JAMES DOUGLAS -1926--1981

Born, October 14, 1926 on the Plantation, "Little Nebraska," owned by the Douglas Family, located near Newellton, Louisiana, in Tensas Parish. He was the fourth child, and the third son of Samuel Frederick Douglas, Sr., and Fannie Rose Armstrong Douglas, both deceased.

Completed elementary school in Newellton, Louisiana, in 1937, and Tensas Parish High School, St. Joseph, Louisiana in 1942. Attended Xavier University, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1942 - 1946.

He was District Manager of Standard Life, and Supreme Life Insurance Companies; Former United States Postal Carrier, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Received his Honorable discharge as Master Sergeant, Korean War Veteran, United States Army, on August 12, 1952. Worked as a salesman for Southern Barber and Beauty Supply until he established his own businesses, Douglas Barber and Beauty Supply and Douglas Fine Foods, retail grocery of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Alexander's Grocery of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, of which he was sole proprietor. He organized the New Roads Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. in 1965 and served as president until 1976. Was elected State President of the N.A.A.C.P., and became a member of the National Board. This position he held until his untimely death on March 25, 1981.

 

Bookmark and Share

 

 

Any contributions will be gratefully accepted

 

Errors and Omissions

The Forum

What's new?

We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archives.

If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know
 

If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.

  We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

We also use the Community Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.
 
 

Douglas Clan Gathering - 30th June to 6th July 2014

A Clan Douglas Gathering is to be held in Scotland in the summer of 2014. If this is something that you would be interested in being part of, then please visit our Gathering Website and to find out more.

There is still time to tell us what we should do at the Gathering, and what you would like to achieve when in Scotland. Join our Community Network and make your views known.

If you would like to be kept informed, please sign up to receive our newsletter


Back to top

The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Monday, 14 April 2014