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Soniat, Llewelyn papers, 1945-2008 | Amistad Research Center

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Title: Soniat, Llewelyn papers, 1945-2008
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Received Extent: 6.0 Boxes
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Physical Description: Overall good condition though arrangement is extremely disheveled with collected news clippings and newspapers acidic and in fragile condition.
Scope and Contents:

The Llewelyn J. Soniat papers encompass 5.31 linear feet of documentation for his tenure with the NAACP New Orleans Branch Executive Committee (1958-circa 1994), the New Orleans NAACP Youth Council (1961-1989), and work as a volunteer for various political campaigns in Louisiana, including the campaigns of Ernest “Dutch” Morial and Marc H. Morial. Soniat’s documentation for his work with the NAACP include correspondence, committee minutes, resolutions, reports, collected news clippings, as well as annual convention and special programs (1983-1988).

A large section of the papers contain materials for Soniat’s work as an alumni to the Xavier University Preparatory School (New Orleans, Louisiana) in which he was a member of various annual funding and reunion committees (1983-1994). These materials include correspondence, committee minutes, financial reports, collected news clippings and printed items, as well as programs dating up to 2008. Of interest is a small amount of school papers for Soniat’s time as a student at Xavier Prep including a report card (1949), correspondence with classmates (1946), commencement programs (1948-1951), a copy of Xavier University Bulletin (November 1946), and a Xavier University of Louisiana Student Handbook (circa 1945). Of interest is a program and chart for the Fourteen Annual Southern Conference Basketball Tournament at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama (1947). Of note are ephemeral items such as Xavier University Preparatory School football programs (1947-1948) and issues of the newspaper The Xavier Herald (1946-1949).

There is a small amount of photographs within the collection mainly of family and NAACP New Orleans Branch events. There is a photograph of Soniat’s wife, Novyse Tomkins, circa 1949 within the collection.

Of note are materials documenting Soniat’s community activism in regards to New Orleans Police Department brutality toward the African American community. Documentation collected by Soniat includes legal briefs, transcripts, and reports for the shooting death of Joseph Williams (2004); as well as, “A Case Study of the Death of Mr. Levon Jones and the Actions of the City of New Orleans Human Relations Commission” compiled by the Crime Committee of the Carrolton Area Network (2005). Lastly, there are extensive news clippings and collected items, such as the legal transcript of the evidentiary hearing of the Concerns Citizens Committee of St. James Parish, et al. v. Willy J. Martin, Sherriff of St. James parish, et al, (2000); which documents the arrest of citizens at St. James Parish High School (1999), who were demonstrating in protest of the transfer of Principal Ridgely Mitchell.

Lastly, Mrs. Novyse Soniat (nee Tomkins) was a member of the Shreveport Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, and the collection includes a hand script book of the chapter’s code, officers, and rules, as well as an 8 x 10 black and white photograph of Miss Tomkins circa 1949. Title page inscription is “Novyse Elaine Tomkins, Saph in the Department of Liberal Arts, New Orleans, Louisiana, Shreveport 59, Louisiana.”

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