A. Martinet Legal Society is the result of the efforts
made by Earl J. Amedee; Israel M. Augustine; Louis
Berry; Lionel Collins; Robert F. Collins; Niles R.
Norman C. Francis; Benjamin J. Johnson; Alvin
Jones; Vanue B. LaCour; Ernest N. Morial;
Justice Revius Ortique, Jr.; J. T. Powell; James Smith;
A. P. Tureaud;
Freddie Warren and Lawrence Wheeler in seeking to combat
the racial injustices and inequalities that existed in
the 1950's. It was during this tumultuous time that Jim
Crow dominated every aspect of African-American life and
African-American attorneys were barred from
participating in the mainstream of the nation's legal
profession. They organized not only for professional
support, but to focus their skills and training to
combat Jim Crow not just in the streets, but in the
courtrooms as well.
Society is named in honor of an African-American pioneer
in the legal profession, Louis André Martinet. Martinet
was the first African-American graduate of Straight
University Law School, now Dillard University, in 1876.
He graduated law school after he passed the Louisiana
Bar Examination a year earlier in 1875. In addition to
being an attorney, Martinet was a politician, lawyer,
educator, activist, journalist, medical doctor, and
notary. Throughout the early years of his practice,
Martinet was also a key figure in the civil rights
activities surrounding the end of Reconstruction. In
1889, Martinet began publishing the Daily Crusader, a
first weekly then daily paper chronicling the struggle
for civil rights.
he helped organize the Comité des Citoyens (Citizens
Committee) to offer legal resistance to the Separate Car
Law of Louisiana. The Separate Car Law was passed by the
Louisiana Legislature, requiring blacks and whites ride
in separate coaches on all public transportation in the
state. Martinet publicly denounced the Separate Car Law
in the Daily Crusader and quickly mobilized
African-American attorneys to combat the law. He was a
key strategist in orchestrating Homer Adolph Plessy's
arrest for violating the Separate Car Act, an act that
resulted in the landmark 1896 United States Supreme
Court decision, Plessy vs. Ferguson, which
established separate but equal as the law of the land.
Because Martinet was not
admitted to practice before the
United States Supreme Court, he selected S.F. Phillips
and A.W. Tourgee to serve as attorneys of record.
New Orleans Times Picayune announced the founding of the
Louis A. Martinet Legal Society on May 13, 1957,
Brown v. Board of Topeka was still fresh in the
American consciousness and the promises of an end to
racial segregation were more tangible to the Society's
A. P. Tureaud
was elected president
of the statewide and the local New Orleans Chapter.
Other state officers included Earl J. Amedee, Financial
Secretary; Vanue B. Lacour (Baton Rouge), Corresponding
secretary; and J. T. Powell (Shreveport), Treasurer. The
local officers included Amedee, Secretary, and Benjamin
J. Johnson, Treasurer.
Martinet's objectives were to encourage interchange of
ideas, promote legal scholarship, advance the science of
jurisprudence, promote the administration of justice,
uphold the order and ethics of the courts and the
profession of law and promote the welfare of the legal
profession in Louisiana.