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Judge J. Skelly Wright (1983)

Louisiana Legends



Genre: Interview

Place Covered: New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana

Copyright Holder: Louisiana Educational Television Authority

Date Issued: 1983

Duration: 00:28:03

Subjects: Segregation | JUDGES | LAWYERS | HARRASSMENT | Francis, Willie | Wright, J. Skelly | United States. Supreme Court | United States federal courts | Electric chair | World War II | Civil Rights | Capital Punishment


  • Fourrier, Clay Assistant Director
  • Courtney, Beth Executive Producer
  • Grigsby-Breazeale, Kathryn Producer
  • Harrison, Joseph L., Jr. Director
  • Weill, Gus Interviewer
  • Wright, J. Skelly Interviewee


This episode of the series “Louisiana Legends” from 1983 features an interview with Judge J. Skelly Wright conducted by Gus Weill. Wright, a New Orleans native, served as a U.S. District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1949-1962, where he struck down unconstitutional and segregationist laws passed by the Louisiana State Legislature and called for the integration of the New Orleans public schools in 1960. He discusses: the impact of his World War II experience on his pro-Civil Rights stance; witnessing segregation at a Christmas Eve party for the blind in New Orleans; attending Loyola University Law School at night while he worked as a teacher; the impact of his experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in shaping his views on justice; arguing in front of the Supreme Court on behalf of Willie Francis; the harassment he and his family faced because of his pro-Civil Rights decisions; the harassment faced by other judges in the South; not being appointed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals because of the difficulty in receiving confirmation votes from Southern Senators; and his appointment as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.