Neighborhood Tour
- Page 5
A community steeped in history
Scotlandville has grown and prospered since relocation of Southern University 103 years ago.

BY COLETTE DEAN

Special to The Advocate One community steeped in history is located in the north section of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Area. Scotlandville, home to Southern University, has been in existence for more than 165 years.

The town was once an isolated rural community near two railroads located along the riverfront.

Scotlandville began to prosper after the black college in New Orleans was relocated to Scott’s bluff in Baton Rouge overlooking the Mississippi River. After the college’s relocation, Scotlandville became largest majority AfricanAmerican town in Louisiana.

A new book, “Scotlandville,” by Drs. Rachel L. Emanuel, Ruby Jean Simms, and Charles Vincent, tells the story of the university and the stories of triumphs and struggles of its townspeople in the midst of racism, inequality, and oppression.

Emanuel is the director of communications and development support for the Southern University Law Center; Simms and Vincent are both professors of history at Southern University.

The authors, using photographs from institutional and personal collections, describe the origins and development of the neighborhood presented through a theme of firsts in businesses, churches, schools, residential developments, environmental issues, politics, and social organizations.

Some of the photographs came from family photo albums stored in attics or under beds. The authors recognize the precious time and significant efforts of those who worked to establish a community.

The first black leaders of Scotlandville included individuals who became business leaders in the community. After World War II, the limited public transportation available for black residents was segregated. Business owners like Arteal and Amanda Kelly, newlyweds who established Kelly’s Blue Line, Scotlandville’s first bus service, helped provide daily transportation to workers at plants and industries along the Mississippi River and at various points in downtown Baton Rouge and area businesses and neighborhoods.

Throughout the years, the self-sufficiency of the residents limited the need for them to venture outside the community’s borders, shielding them from the oppression and degradation of secondclass citizenship.

The authors write, “Through their share of hardships and struggles, they have enjoyed life, celebrating with each other during the joys and victories and consoling each other during storms, both natural and man-made.”

Southern University celebrated its 100th year on the bluff in 2014. In 2015, it celebrated 135 years as an institution. Today, notable graduates of Southern University include athletes, entertainers, politicians, and artists. The school’s marching band, the Human Jukebox, has been featured in numerous television commercials, music videos, and has been invited to participate in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, Presidential Inauguration ceremonies, and six Super Bowl halftime presentations. In 2014, the NCAA ranked the band the second best in the nation.