I am pleased to share that the LSU Board of Supervisors met today and voted unanimously to honor several remarkable individuals whose immeasurable impact on LSU merits lasting recognition. Lutrill and Pearl Payne, Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane, and Julian T. White were pioneers in Black history and in the history of our university. They demonstrated perseverance and resilience in breaking down barriers to shape LSU into the university we are today. Their stories—and names—should inspire us to work tirelessly toward the future we want to see.
We will name two academic programs and one building in their honor:
The Lutrill & Pearl Payne School of Education, housed within the College of Human Sciences & Education, honors Lutrill Payne and his wife, Pearl Payne, whose work to integrate the LSU Graduate School opened the door for many others to follow. Mr. Payne was initially denied admission to the LSU Graduate School because of his race. However, following a successful legal defense, he enrolled in 1951. Mrs. Payne enrolled soon after and became the first Black woman to earn a degree from LSU when she obtained a Master of Education in 1956.
The Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School honors Pinkie Gordon Lane, the first Black woman to earn her doctorate from LSU in 1967. An accomplished educator and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and author, she was the first woman to serve as Southern University’s English Department Chair and was appointed by Governor Buddy Roemer as Louisiana’s first Black Poet Laureate.
Julian T. White Hall, formerly the Design Building, honors Julian T. White, the second Black licensed architect in the state of Louisiana. White was also LSU’s first Black professor who began teaching in LSU’s Architecture Department in 1971. In 2020, the LSU College of Art & Design unveiled a three-story mural of White in the atrium of the Design Building, which will now be named in his honor.
Dr. Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, a history professor at Xavier University of Louisiana, who earned her doctorate at LSU, said she is appreciative of the efforts made by the institution to acknowledge the contributions of the African Americans that shaped its future.
“As a Black female LSU graduate alumna, it gives me pride to know that the school is diversifying in tangible ways that will forever be etched in the minds and memories of future students taking classes in those buildings,” DeCuir said.
"The university’s design building will take on the name Julian T. White Hall. Meanwhile, LSU announced the naming of the Lutrill and Pearl Payne School of Education and the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School.
“In the past year, we have made tangible progress to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at LSU,” said LSU President William Tate. “As we move into the new year, I look forward to more conversations with our campus community around efforts to recognize our past and celebrate our future.”"
A black veteran of World War II, Charles A. Hatfield III sought to take advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (known as the “G.I. Bill”) to enroll in LSU Law School in 1946. The law provided a benefit to veterans wherein the federal government paid for tuition at a school of their choice, along with a stipend. LSU administrators suggested that Hatfield apply to Southern University in Baton Rouge; Hatfield responded that there was no law school at the institution. Hatfield filed a lawsuit. The state soon established the law center at Southern University (a manifestation of the policy of “separate but equal” upheld after Plessy v. Ferguson); Hatfield’s case was subsequently dismissed.
In 1950 through attorneys A. P. Tureaud Sr., W. Simpson Tate, and Thurgood Marshall, World War II veteran Roy S. Wilson sued LSU for admission into the Law School, and won. Wilson’s lawsuit was initiated “on his own behalf and on the behalf of all Negro citizens of the United States residing in the state of Louisiana…” Though Wilson later withdrew, his successful suit helped pave the way for integration at LSU.
Agriculture instructor Lutrill Amos Payne, Sr., a graduate of Southern University and a veteran of World War II, applied to a vocational agriculture program in the LSU graduate school in 1951. The university rejected Payne’s application based on an official policy of racial segregation, encouraging him to make use of state funding to attend a school out of state. Payne secured the services of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attorney A. P. Tureaud Sr. who filed a successful lawsuit on his behalf.
Subsequent lawsuits followed as more Louisiana citizens applied to enroll in their state university, an institution funded with their tax dollars.