In more than 40 years of covering politics I’ve encountered countless poseurs who take credit for things that others make happen. Only rarely have I met someone who lives by the old wisdom that there’s no limit to what can be accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit. Rudy Lombard was one of those rare individuals who never sought credit for the many great things he did.
Rudy was one of the early leaders of the modern Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans. He was a national vice president of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). While still in college at Xavier University, he was arrested for leading New Orleans’ first lunch counter sit-in at McCrory’s on Canal Street. He took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won.
Rudy earned a Ph.D. in urban planning from Syracuse University and ran for mayor of New Orleans in 1986. He finished a distant fourth, but he made public housing a major issue in that race. In his spare time, he co-authored the first Black Creole cookbook (Creole Feast), and in his later years he was a leading researcher and advocate for educating African-American men about the dangers of prostate cancer, which he contracted a decade ago.
Rudy died Dec. 13 at the age of 75 after a brave battle against pancreatic cancer, surrounded by his younger brother, Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Edwin Lombard, and other family members. At the visitation and in conversations afterward, Judge Lombard and Rudy’s friends remembered him the same way I do — as a quiet, joyful hero.
“The most amazing thing about Rudy was that he was so reluctant to talk about himself and his contribution to the Movement,” Judge Lombard said. “I used to be angry about the fact that Rudy paid his dues and never got any note for it. He would just shrug it off and say, ‘Don’t worry about it. There’s plenty to go around — plus you know it. That’s enough.’ It bothered me, but it never bothered him.”
I know Jimmy Graham is a great player but Jeremy Shockey would have punched someone by now. Stats aren't everything.— Clifton Harris (@Clifton611) December 7, 2014
“America's promise pledges indivisibility and justice for all, yet we are divided by race, class and inequity. The most challenging issues on the streets of our cities are now on display. Instead of looking away, we must agree to face the problems in our justice system head on. We must ask ourselves why this country’s value of African American men and boys is not the same as their counterparts. In order to move forward and to have peace, we must agree that while we are not all at fault, we are all responsible for creating the reconciliation that is required. Together, we must convert this painful moment in our history into a beginning for meaningful change. In New Orleans and in cities across the country, this must happen in word and in deed.”
"Today I pray for the Brown family and everyone in Ferguson. In the United States we remain divided. Divided by race. Divided by poverty. We live a block away from one another, but are often a world apart.The statement follows dozens of rallies across the U.S. planned in the wake of the decision. Tonight, demonstrators plan to meet at 6 p.m. at Lafayette Square. This Sunday, Nov. 30, the New Orleans chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 hosts a "solidarity gathering addressing the impact of state sanctioned police violence in the black community from Ferguson to New Orleans." The gathering begins at noon at Lee Circle. Attendees are asked to wear black and/or red.
It is time for each of us, every American, to accept the fact that we must begin to acknowledge and discuss the most difficult issues we face. And we must agree to face them together.
American citizens have the right to protest, but I encourage peaceful protests in these difficult times."
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