There's been so much talk lately of the revitalization of Central City's Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, I thought we'd take a look at the woman for whom the street is named.
Originally from Tennessee, Oretha Castle moved to New Orleans in 1947, when she was 7. After graduating from Joseph S. Clark High School and enrolling in Southern University at New Orleans, Haley became involved in the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, beginning with picketing Canal Street department stores and participating in sit-in demonstrations at segregated cafeterias. She later co-founded the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and served as its president from 1961 to 1964.
She took part in dozens of protests and demonstrations during the 1960s, including a march on City Hall in 1963, where police carried her out of the building on a chair after she and her sister refused to leave. She worked for a short time as a state CORE leader in Bogalusa and Monroe before returning to New Orleans.
Later, Haley was one of the leaders of a lawsuit that helped end racial discrimination at Charity Hospital, where she later became an administrator. She also helped organize political campaigns, including those of former New Orleans City Councilwoman Dorothy Mae Taylor and former Orleans Parish School Board member Gail Glapion. After Haley died of cancer in 1987, Taylor was one of the strongest proponents of renaming a stretch of Dryades Street in her honor. The name change was made official in 1989.