New Orleans Activist Dies



Dr. Marshall Truehill — public housing activist, senior pastor of First United Baptist Church, former chairman  of the New Orleans City Planning Commission and president of City Works, a nonprofit organization committed to the sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans — died yesterday.

     Truehill, a native New Orleanian who grew up in public housing, was known for his strong public advocacy for African Americans, and was not afraid of speaking his mind on controversial subjects. He spoke out against the demolition of the city’s “big four” (B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, St. Bernard and Lafitte) public housing developments, but, at the same time, campaigned in favor of the city charter amendment giving the master plan the power of law.

    “He was just fearless,” says Angela O’Byrne, who worked with Truehill at City Works. “He would speak, not hysterically, but very rationally, calmly and believably, even when he knew what he was saying was controversial.”

     Karen Gadbois, a fellow activist says she didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Truehill, but respected him for his ability to listen to others, especially those with opposite opinions.

   “He was a true bridge between blacks and whites, and we don’t have many of those in this city,” Gadbois says.

     Truehill had just received  a doctorate in urban studies, his third, from the University of New Orleans. He is survived by his wife, Miranda Farr, and five children. He was 60 years old.


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