Hidden History: Pastor recalls his youth during desegregation in Opelousas

Hidden History

OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY)- An Opelousas pastor remembers a time when he was not always allowed into certain places and times he feared for his life growing up.

“I’m proud to be from Opelousas. I’m proud of my city. It wasn’t always easy. As a young back man, why do people hate you for the color of skin?” Pastor Toussaint of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, said.

Born in 1962, the 12th child out of 13th children of James and Lilly Mae Toussaint, Pastor Gerald Toussaint remembers growing up in a segregated Opelousas.

He recalls the history and times he and his family were not allowed into many places just because of the color of their skin.

“We couldn’t go into some stores, certain neighborhoods. I remember walking to the stadium for a game and a guy yelled as us to get our the street,” Toussaint explains.”He tried to run us over. We were just kids trying to go to a game.”

Toussaint looks back on his city’s uneasy desegregation.

He remembers being one of the first African American families to move on the white side of town and attend a white school.

“We were the first family when it desegregated. We lived across the street from Grolee Elementary so we had to attend the school. It wasn’t easy . We weren’t accepted. Our house was egged. We couldn’t walk down the streets. They would send their dogs after us,” Toussaint adds.

Toussaint says he is not ashamed of his community’s history.

He said he looks at it as  a way to grow and move forward from where our country once was.

“You have to move forward, no matter what happens in your life. You have to press forward. Paul the Apostle says ‘Forget things behind you, press to a higher power.’ “

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