Moon Landrieu, the transformational New Orleans mayor who helped usher in the rise of black political power at City Hall and whose passion for public service spawned a political dynasty, died Monday morning at his New Orleans home, according to his family. He was 92.
Moon Landrieu death
Moon Landrieu, who reshaped racial politics in one of the nation’s most polyglot and irrepressible cities, New Orleans, where he won the mayor’s office in 1970 with a rare coalition of white and Black supporters, died on Monday at his home in New Orleans. He was 92.
Ryan Berni, a longtime Landrieu family aide, confirmed his death.
Moon Landrieu cause of the death
the cause of the death is still unknown and not yet specified.
Just got a call from the Landrieu family to confirm that our city’s beloved former mayor, Moon Landrieu, passed peacefully at home earlier today surrounded by his wife Verna, children and other family members. The family asks for privacy right now as they make arrangements.— Clancy DuBos (@clancygambit) September 5, 2022
Who was Moon Landrieu?
Maurice Edwin “Moon” Landrieu (July 23, 1930 – September 5, 2022) was an American lawyer and politician who served as New Orleans’ 56th mayor from 1970 to 1978. He was a member of the Democratic Party who represented New Orleans’ Twelfth Ward in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1960 to 1966, a member-at-large on the New Orleans City Council from 1966 to 1970, and the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1979 to 1981 under U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Early life and career of Moon Landrieu
Landrieu was born in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood to Joseph Geoffrey Landrieu and Loretta Bechtel. Bechtel was of German ancestry, with grandparents from Alsace and Prussia who immigrated to Louisiana. Joseph was born in Mississippi in 1892 as the illegitimate child of a mixed-race black woman and an unknown father to Frenchman Victor Firmin Landrieu and Cerentha Mackey.
Moon attended Jesuit High School and received a baseball scholarship to Loyola University New Orleans, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration in 1952 and a Juris Doctorate in 1954. He was elected student body president at Loyola as an undergraduate. He joined the US Army as a second lieutenant in 1954 and served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps until 1957. He opened a law practice and taught accounting at Loyola after completing his army service.
Landrieu became involved in the youth wing of Mayor deLesseps Morrison’s Crescent City Democratic Organization in the late 1950s. Landrieu was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1960 by the 12th Ward of New Orleans on Morrison’s ticket, succeeding J. Marshall Brown. There, he voted against the segregationists’ “hate bills,” which the Louisiana State Legislature passed in an attempt to thwart the desegregation of public facilities and public schools.
Landrieu ran unsuccessfully for New Orleans City Council in 1962 but was elected Councilman-at-large in 1966. In 1969, he led a successful campaign for a city ordinance prohibiting racial or religious segregation in public accommodations, an issue addressed nationally in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Landrieu voted as a councilman to remove the Confederate flag from the council chambers and to create a biracial human relations committee. He succeeded with both votes.
Moon Landrieu as mayor
Landrieu was elected Mayor of New Orleans in 1970, succeeding fellow Democrat Victor Schiro. In the Democratic primary runoff, he faced Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jimmy Fitzmorris. Landrieu won by assembling a coalition of 90 percent black voters and 39 percent white voters. Addison Roswell Thompson, the owner of a taxicab stand and a member of the Ku Klux Klan, ran for mayor again in the Democratic primary but received little support. Landrieu defeated Ben C. Toledano in the general election. Landrieu received 99 percent support from black voters in that election.
Landrieu received a death threat by phone on May 3, 1970, the day before he took his oath of office as mayor, but authorities apprehended the perpetrator quickly. Landrieu oversaw the desegregation of city government and public facilities, as well as encouraging integration within business and professional organizations, during his tenure as mayor. There were no high-ranking black employees or officials in City Hall prior to Landrieu’s election; he actively worked to change this by appointing African Americans to top positions, including Chief Administrative Officer, the number two position in the executive branch of city government. When Landrieu took office in 1970, African Americans made up 19 percent of city employees; by 1978, this number had risen to 43 percent.
Landrieu obtained federal funds for the revitalization of New Orleans’ poor neighborhoods, and he encouraged minority-owned businesses to participate in the city’s economic life. Landrieu, like his predecessor, presided over continued suburban-style growth in the Algiers and New Orleans East districts, with Algiers essentially built out by the end of his administration, having exited its greenfield development stage. Landrieu was also involved in the planning and construction of the Louisiana Superdome, the Piazza d’Italia, and other New Orleans economic development projects. He advocated for the establishment of a Downtown Development District to revitalize New Orleans’ CBD and worked to promote the city’s tourism industry.
Landrieu was president of the United States Conference of Mayors from 1975 to 1976. He was re-elected in 1974 and remained in office until April 1978. He was succeeded as mayor by Dutch Morial, the city’s first black mayor. Landrieu was the city’s last white mayor until his son Mitch was elected in 2010.
Personal life of Moon Landrieu
Moon is the father of former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. In 2007, Mary was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame. The family is devoutly Catholic.
Landrieu was one-eighth African-American.
Landrieu died on September 5, 2022, at the age of 92, at his home in New Orleans.
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