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Marsalis, Ellis, Sr. oral history interview, 1988 | Amistad Research Center

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Title: Marsalis, Ellis, Sr. oral history interview, 1988
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Scope and Contents:

This collection consists of one audio compact disc containing an interview with Ellis Marsalis Sr. conducted by Dr. Lawrence N. Powell of Tulane University’s Department of History. The interview was conducted in on September 15, 1988. The focus of the interview is on Marsalis’ purchase of property in the Shrewsbury community of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and his development of a motel on the property. The property served as a place of lodging for visiting African American musicians, political leaders, entertainers, and everyday people who visited the New Orleans area during the era of segregated accommodations.

Marsalis also discusses in depth his founding of the Jefferson Parish Boosters Club, efforts to register African Americans in Jefferson Parish. He discusses his relations with both the African American and White population in Jefferson Parish. Marsalis faced discrimination and harassment because he was politically active and a Black property owner in a predominantly White area. He, in turn, was met with suspicion by members of the Black community because of his friendly relations with the local White sheriff. In the interview, Marsalis provides anecdotal and personal reflections on individual political and civic figures, political engagement by African Americans in Jefferson Parish, harassment and violence faced by African Americans, as well as personal, business, and family information. Individuals discussed or mentioned in the interview include: Henry Arnoult (judge), Lawrence A. Chehardy (judge), Frank J. Clancy (Jefferson Parish Sheriff), Arthur P. Clay, William S. Coci (Jefferson Parish Sheriff), Lionel Collins (attorney) Eula Mae Lee (educator), Beauregard Miller (Gretna, LA town marshall), John Prosper, Marion Tucker, A.P. Tureaud (attorney), and Ernest Wright.

A complete, but not verbatim, transcript of the interview is housed in the Ellis Marsalis Sr. papers. A table listing the audio tracks and matching transcript pages is housed in the collection file.

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