This month marks the 65th anniversary of the opening of St. Augustine High School, an important institution for Catholic education, particularly among African-American men. Speakers at the Aug. 27, 1951 dedication included Mayor Chep Morrison, Archbishop Joseph Rummel and the Rev. Thomas McNamara, Superior General of the Josephites, the religious order which founded the school. At the time, local schools were segregated, so St. Augustine provided one of the few options for religious education for African-Americans. St. Aug leaders waged important battles throughout the Civil Rights movement, particularly in desegregating high school athletics.
In 1967, the school's Marching 100 band (founded by Edwin Hampton) became the first African-American high school band to march in the Rex parade. Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures devastated the school in 2005 but it remains a fixture in the 7th Ward. Famous alumni include New York Times editor Dean Baquet, former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, actors Carl Weathers and Harold Sylvester and numerous professional athletes, public servants and business and civic leaders.