Xavier: A Timeline
After white homeowners drive Southern University out of New Orleans, Mother Katharine Drexel makes a series of secret deals to buy Southern’s former campus, with the goal of founding another university for Black students there.
Pope Pius XI condemns co-education as a "pernicious error," but Mother Katharine secures an official exception for Xavier, which has already been teaching women and men together for 15 years.
Xavier University opens a new campus at its present-day location. Knowing that Black attendees will be expected to stand at the dedication ceremony until all white attendees are seated, Mother Katharine directs that no chairs be put out on the grounds.
Xavier tennis sensation Jimmie McDaniel (XU '40) plays US tennis champion Don Budge in the country's first public interracial tennis match.
72 Xavier and Dillard students are arrested when, returning from a basketball game on a bus with only one white passenger aboard, they toss the bus's racial dividing sign on the floor and sit wherever they want.
Xavier's Sister Mary Elise Sisson defies Louisiana's segregation laws by staging operas for interracial audiences. The shows sell out.
Xavier Senior Class President Rudy Lombard (XU '61) is arrested for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter. He sues, and the US Supreme Court rules that state laws denying service based on a customer's race are unconstitutional.
Xavier's Sisters publish an open letter condemning forced segregation as a violation of Scripture. Some local residents call the Sisters "depraved" and "communists," but Xavier students hold a rally to thank them.
Xavier Senior Class President Rudy Lombard helps organize the first "Freedom Ride" across the South. After the Freedom Riders are beaten, arrested, and firebombed by the Klan, Xavier Dean of Men Norman Francis arranges a safe haven for them at St. Michael's dorm.
Xavier students, staff and alumni organize to help Black voters register, a process that, at that time in Louisiana, includes a written test, an oral test, and a "moral" and "character" test.
College protests sweep the country, including at Xavier, where students demand more Black representation on the faculty and in the curriculum.
Norman Francis becomes Xavier's first Black, lay president. He will go on to serve for 47 years, the longest term of any university president in US history.
Xavier hires Dr. J.W. Carmichael, who develops its Summer Science Academy and premed program. For the next 50 years, experts around the country will study his methods as a model of success for producing Black doctors and scientists.
Ernest "Dutch" Morial (XU '51) becomes the first Black mayor of New Orleans.
Mother Katharine Drexel becomes Saint Katharine Drexel when she is canonized by Pope John Paul II.
65 percent of Xavier students volunteer for post-Katrina relief efforts. They also recruit about 1,500 students from other HBCUs to come to New Orleans and work with them.
Xavier's "Hurricane Class" of 2006 graduates. The US Senator from Illinois and future US President Barack Obama gives their commencement address.
Xavier President Norman Francis is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Dr. Regina Benjamin (XU '79) is appointed US Surgeon General. In 2013, she will return to Xavier as the NOLA.com/Times-Picayune Endowed Chair of Public Health Sciences.
Dr. C. Reynold Verret, a distinguished biochemist and immunologist who grew up in Haiti and New York City, becomes Xavier's new president.
LaToya Cantrell (XU '96) is elected Mayor of New Orleans. She is the first woman—and the second Xavier graduate—to serve as the city's mayor.