Guillory being honored for decades of civil rights work

by Heather Miller

State Sen. Elbert Guillory grew up during segregation and led his first civil rights demonstration when he was 16 years old.

State Sen. Elbert Guillory is among seven people receiving honors this week at, of all places, Angola. The Opelousas Democrat is being inducted into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame, a program of the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation that recognizes outstanding Louisiana residents whose life work is in law enforcement, the judiciary, criminal justice, civil service or other related professions.

Guillory, according to information submitted by the Angola Museum Foundation, grew up during segregation and led his first civil rights demonstration when he was 16 years old:

Guillory attended Southern University and became editor-in-chief of the Digest, reporting and writing editorials advocating equality and an end to institutional segregation. Because of his advocacy, his mother's job as a teacher and brother's job as a police officer were threatened. Guillory was eventually asked to leave Southern.

He joined the U.S. Navy and was posted at Norfolk, Virginia, where he also attended college at Norfolk State University. While there Guillory served as editor-in-chief of the Norfolk State Beacon, and continued his civil rights activities, participating in marches in Virginia,
Delaware, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. After honorably completing his four-year enlistment in the Navy, he attended Rutgers University Law School where he learned to refine his organizational and management skills and move to another level of the civil rights struggle. Guillory began to advise students on how to organize and conduct civil rights demonstrations, focusing on specific goals with achievable results such as living conditions in housing projects and minority employment.

Guillory taught at Rutgers University Law School and was instrumental in helping the Affirmative Enforcement Clinic craft most of the nation's laws and techniques for enforcing anti-discrimination civil rights laws for employment and housing. Now a state senator for district 24, he continues to fight for equality through the legislative process.

Guillory will be honored at a banquet in Baton Rouge Friday night with the six other inductees, which include U.S. District Judge Lance Africk of New Orleans; former Louisiana Attorney General William Guste Jr.; Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones Jr.; 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux; retired Bossier City Court Judge Billy Ross Robinson, and state Rep. Ernest Wooton of Belle Chasse.