LSU Board of Supervisors votes unanimously to bestow the name Lutrill and Pearl Payne upon the School of Education
December 9, 2022
Dear School of Education Community,
I am pleased to share that the LSU Board of Supervisors met today and voted unanimously to bestow the name Lutrill and Pearl Payne upon the School of Education. This honorific recognizes the impact the Payne family had on LSU and on education in Louisiana.
Mr. Payne was the first African American to matriculate at the University, though not without overcoming substantial obstacles. From 1860 to 1899, LSU was a strictly segregated educational institution intended to service white students. The Plessy v. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1896 allowed for separate accommodation of races if equal provisions were provided for whites and non-whites. For African Americans choosing to pursue degrees in fields not offered by Black-serving institutions in Louisiana, the state government paid their expenses to attend programs in other states.
In the 1930s, Mr. Payne graduated from Southern University, moved to Natchitoches, married a teacher named Pearl, and had started a family before entering military service for World War II. After returning, Mr. Payne sued for admission to LSU’s graduate program in agricultural education. A. P. Tureaud, Sr., filed suit in federal court on Mr. Payne’s behalf, and after a very short trial, Mr. Payne won the case and was admitted for the summer 1951 term. The University archives do not indicate Mr. Payne received a credential for his work though publicly available records show a ‘report card’ with passing grades.
In 1952, Mrs. Payne enrolled in the Graduate School to pursue a Master of Education degree. She commuted from Natchitoches to Baton Rouge weekly to attend classes, and in 1953, she became one of the first African American women to earn a degree at LSU. Mrs. Payne’s teaching career spanned 37 years.
The Paynes’ perseverance and their dedication to education make them a defining part of LSU’s history. Honoring Black pioneers like Lutrill and Pearl Payne and recognizing their courage, strength, and formidable spirit strengthens our community as a whole. The Board has also voted to honor several other remarkable individuals, naming the Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School and Julian T. White Hall. I hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about these individuals and their inspirational stories of success through incredible perseverance, and I look forward to celebrating the naming of the Lutrill & Pearl Payne School of Education with you all in-person early next year.
William F. Tate IV