Congressman Cedric Richmond

Representing the 2nd District of Louisiana

Rep. Richmond Mourns the Passing of Civil Rights Icon Lolis Edward Elie

April 5, 2017
Press Release

Washington DC – Today, Rep. Richmond (LA-02) issued the following statement after attorney and national civil rights stalwart Lolis Edward Elie passed away:

“It is a sad day in Louisiana as we mourn the loss of a loving father, tireless advocate, and champion for justice,” said Rep. Richmond. “A native of New Orleans and graduate of Dillard University and Loyola Law School, Lolis Edward Elie rose to become one of the nation’s pre-eminent civil rights attorneys. His legal practice, the law firm of Collins, Douglas, and Elie, became the most noteworthy firm in Louisiana for racial equality and played a key role in the integration of New Orleans.

“In 1960, Elie and his colleagues, Nils Douglas and Robert Collins, represented the New Orleans chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) following a sit-in campaign. The case, centered on CORE chapter President Rudy Lombard and three others who were arrested for staging a sit-in protest, paved the way for a watershed decision that would redefine racial justice in America. They appealed the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court which, in its decision, declared the city's ban on sit-ins unconstitutional. 

“Later in his career, Elie was one of seven supporters of the Freedom Riders who met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, when Kennedy encouraged them to register black Southerners to vote to increase their political power. He also represented the ‘Deacons for Defense and Justice’ in their negotiations with the governor’s office and Bogalusa City Council defending their right to self-defense.

“Elie remained active in New Orleans and continued to mentor the next generation of leaders through his training program for new black lawyers. Though he is no longer with us, his influence and example will live on through the many young black men and women who continue to be inspired by his legacy, myself included.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his daughter Dr. Migel Elie, his son, Lolis Eric Elie, and his entire family during this sad and painful time. Elie represented the best of who we are, and pushed Louisiana and the nation to reach that standard. We all have him to thank for how far we have risen since the day he first joined a picket line and for the heights we will reach in the future.”