Funeral set for Moon Landrieu; Archbishop Aymond, Norman Francis reflect on former New Orleans mayor’s legacy
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A funeral service for former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu will be held Saturday (Sept. 10) at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church on St. Charles Avenue.
Sources close to the family said visitation will begin at 10 a.m., the funeral service will start at 12:30 p.m. and a Mass will follow at 1 p.m. at the church at 6367 St. Charles Avenue. Burial will be private.
Landrieu died Monday at age 92. New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Xavier University President Emeritus Norman C. Francis discussed their relationships with the former two-term mayor with Fox 8 on Tuesday.
“I’ve known Moon for a very long time,” Aymond said. “In fact, I was stationed at what was then St. Matthias - which is now Blessed Trinity on South Broad - and that was their parish at the time. I used to see him and (wife) Verna there quite often, and there’s no doubt that Moon and Verna are people of faith.”
Landrieu’s legacy includes his determination to integrate the top tiers of city government in the early 1970s, during a time when some still favored segregation.
“One of the words that can best describe Moon is that he was a man of courage,” Aymond said. “There is no doubt that he thought and he prayed and when he came to the conclusion that something was right and it was just, he did it. And he did it with great conviction.
“That’s something that I always admired. Because it’s easy to think, ‘What are people going to say? What are people not going to say? Am I going to be accepted?’”
When Landrieu was first sworn in as mayor in 1970, his friend Francis was there. A black-and-white photo shows Francis seated next to the podium.
Francis told Fox 8 how he and Landrieu met while both were undergrads. Francis was a student at the historically black Xavier University, and Landrieu was attending Loyola University.
“A number of us who were at Catholic schools in New Orleans had an association, where we would every first Sunday have a Mass and we’d get together and we’d talk about issues and so forth,” Francis said.
Francis recalled that on one trip the group took out of town, Landrieu got an eye-opening sense of what segregation was like for Black Americans.
“He was on the bus and we kept passing stations that had gas,” Francis said.
Landrieu wondered why, and Francis explained, “We can’t go in that station, because it’s segregated.”
“So, he got the first picture, in a way,” Francis said.
During a 2014 interview with Fox 8, Landrieu praised his friendship with Francis.
“From the very first day we met, we became friends,” Landrieu said. “Advising me when I became mayor on racial issues ... his service on Civil Service Commission made a monumental change in hiring African-Americans at City Hall.”
They also attended law school together at Loyola.
“We were like brothers, because we thought the same way,” Francis said. “We were shackled. So, Moon became the guy who unshackled much of what Blacks had already learned.”
Francis said he was not surprised that Landrieu won the mayoral contest.
“I was absolutely clear that Moon could win the election,” Francis said. “Why? We went out and got our folks to register to vote.”
Aymond said everyone can learn from Landrieu’s boldness.
“He gives us an example of radical courage,” Aymond said. “As I was reading over the last couple of days about his life, it gave me a sense of that same courage, that I can borrow from him and have that lasting determination. And, as leaders, we all do that. But we need to hold up people like Moon and to say, ‘He did it in a very radical way.’
“He did it in a way that has made a difference in our society, and we can learn from him.”
Francis said Landrieu faced criticism for his values, but did not waver.
“He took the spears in the back and had one thing that was important,” Francis said. “He always told truth.”
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