NOLA Resistance: The Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans

The Trail They Blazed
is a traveling exhibition built collaboratively with the community that participated in the local Civil Rights Movement and those working to preserve its legacy.

Understanding how change happens—how it happened in the past and how to enact change today—can be difficult. The Trail They Blazed attempts to clarify the process of making change by breaking down historical examples from the New Orleans Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s–70s, and, in so doing, creates a better understanding of the past. This framework will use questions to interrogate historic events, such as:

New Orleans Civil Rights leader Oretha Castle Haley

What was the problem?

Who stepped up?

What did they do?

How did things change?

By asking and answering these questions, the exhibition will encourage visitors to think critically about how change happens and provide examples from this era to help create a roadmap for future activism.

Mid-century 'colored entrance' of a barroom

The Trail They Blazed features over forty quotes and sound bites from participants in the local Civil Rights Movement, allowing visitors to hear and read these stories straight from the people who lived them. These accounts are illustrated with photographs and images documenting the history of the movement.

The exhibition highlights stories of boycotts, public school desegregation, the Congress of Racial Equality, the 1963 March on City Hall, the many people who supported the movement, voter registration and education efforts, and activism in the Desire neighborhood.

Images from the exhibition


University of Holy Cross, Kern Library
November 20, 2023–March 3, 2024

4123 Woodland Drive
New Orleans, LA

New Orleans Public Library, Main Branch
Summer 2024

219 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA

REACH Center
December 2024–February 2025

2022 St. Bernard Avenue
Corpus Christi, Building C
New Orleans, LA



Contact Matt Farah, Exhibition Coordinator, The Historic New Orleans Collection, at 504-598-7103 or