Read the Books of a Black man who took on the Klan, and got Spiro Agnew elected Governor of Maryland.
In 1965 Whitney LeBlanc was hired to integrate the faculty at Towson State Teachers College north of Baltimore, Maryland. This was never-never land for people with dark skin. Then a colleague from graduate school at the University of Iowa had the bright idea of bringing LeBlanc from Howard University in Washington DC., to the "lilly white college" faculty to integrate it. The very next year LeBlanc decided to direct the new play, And People All Around , by George Sklar. This play dealt with the recent murder of the three Civil Right Workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
The day before the production was scheduled to open; LeBlanc was called to the College President’s office. Dr. Hawkins introduced him to the FBI men who brought word that Klan was planning to shut down the play. LeBlanc’s comment was, “Let ‘em come and try.” With that it was decided the play would go on as planned and the FBI would protect the actors and the students, and keep the Klan off College property.
About 20 members of the Klan came in full regalia and protested with signs on the street in front of the College. LeBlanc stood at the edge of the College grounds and watched, as the same organization alleged to have killed, and were later convicted for killing, the Civil Rights workers were within 10 feet from where he stood. A shiver of fear ran through LeBanc’s body and he turned and went back into the auditorium and gave the word to lift the curtain. Several Klansmen attempted to enter the auditorium but were turned away by The FBI. Then they went out, took off their sheets and hoods and returned as playgoers to yell and heckle as the play progressed. The FBI removed each of the hecklers as they were revealed, and the play progressed amidst this confusion. When all was said and done the production had run its course, the audience stood and applauded the courageous undertaking that it was.
Now all of this took place in the midst of a political campaign for the governorship of Maryland. At this time the Democratic candidate, George P. Mahoney, a self made millionaire contractor, was leading in the polls to be elected as Governor. His slogan was “Your Home is Your Castle”, and many of the supporters who protested along with the Klan wore Mahoney hats. The next day, Friday October 21, 1966, the Baltimore Sun ran an article including pictures of Klan members with the Mahoney supporters. The Republican committee jumped on this opportunity with vigor. They flooded the state with posters and flyers carrying the picture and message, “Beat back Mahoney and the Klan”. Needless to say, this last minute campaign worked and Spiro Agnew was elected Governor by a very narrow margin; 49.5% of the vote to Mahoney’s 40.6%. Hyman Pressman got the 9.8% difference. LeBlanc Has always believed that if it were not for his production of this play, exposing the Klan for the killing of the Civil Rights Workers, Spiro Agnew would have never become Governor and then Vice-President. So he concludes that his production influenced the history of the country; whether for good or evil it was not decided.
In 1969, shortly after the incident with the Klan, LeBlanc became a PBS Television Director, after deciding he had done all that he could to integrate Towson College. It was from these experiences, with the Klan and the elections of Agnew ; LeBlanc went on to write novels about, good and evil, right and wrong, prejudice and equality, bigotry and hatred, black and white. And the experiences of his life are reflected in the trilogy about a Louisiana Creole family, Blues in the Wind, Shadows of the Blues, Bodacious Blues, and The Portrait. Read them. Share and discover the life experiences of this writer, which are just as true today as they were then.
"Whitney LeBlanc has re-created the first book of his Blues Trilogy in Blues in the Wind - Revisited. This expanded introduction to the three novels by the beautiful Creole matriarch, Martha Broussard, who tells of her family's trials in Estilette Louisiana, from 1934 -1955. Fanning this tragedy and used as a motif throughout the novel is a piece of emerging new music, raw, sordid, vulgar, sinful - the blues. This music counterpoints the emotions of the characters, defining their behavior and mental states. Martha's lapse into madness and the decline of the Fergerson family parallels the rise and the acceptance of the blues as an important original art form."
Ted Shine, Ph.D
Playwright, Screenwriter, Author, Professor of Theatre History and Playwriting, Howard University, University of Texas, and Professor Emeritus Prairie View University.
“Whitney LeBlanc’s, Bodacious Blues is an excellent and entertaining coda to his explosive Creole family trilogy. An engrossing saga, vividly told by this loyal Louisiana native and highly respected theatre artist who intimately understands the many shades of truth that the Big Easy holds. Writer LeBlanc presents the reader with a bevy of colorful multiracial characters who will resonate long after you’ve finished this haunting and deeply personal read. As with his two preceding volumes—Blues in the Wind and Shadows of the Blues— Bodacious Blues and its lead character Les Martel, takes us on a soulful and heartfelt journey. It was hard to put down.”
Robert Hooks -
Award-winning actor; producer; founder Negro Ensemble Company, The Group Theatre Workshop & The DC Black Repertory Company.
"Shadows of the Blues is not just about racism and the old South. This book wisely touches on many subjects, such as hypocrisy in religion, unwanted pregnancies, and even the pains of being the other woman. What an exciting novel. My mother, her father, and his mother were born in Waterproof, Louisiana. Late in life I discovered this and went there. This novel reminded me of some of the stories I heard. There is such a rich cultural history in Louisiana I felt like a fly on the wall experiencing Les’s journey. This feels like a bestseller and a film. Kudos to Whitney for a wonderful novel.”
Marla Gibbs -
Lead Actress of 227 series. Major supporting actress of The Jeffersons series. Appeared in over 100 films and television productions. Producer, writer and recipient of many awards.
“Talent will out! As exemplified by Whitney J. LeBlanc. Playwright, award-winning theatre and television director, designer of beautiful stained glass windows, Whitney has just completed his third historical novel. Last of the trilogy, Bodacious Blues depicts the trials and tribulations of the townspeople of Estilette Louisiana in their association with its most prominent families, the Fergerson/Broussards. Blues, voodoo, and the inborn racism of the area touches everyone’s lives in this, Whitney’s tense climactic finish to the Fergerson/Broussard family, and those that embrace and those who would destroy them…Great reading!!!!”
H. Wesley Kenney -
Seven-time Emmy winning Television Producer – Director
“I have known Whitney J. LeBlanc since 1963 and he is, without doubt, the most creative man I know. A brilliant scenic designer, playwright, director, stained glass artist, and now a novelist. Whitney never ceases to amaze. With BODACIOUS BLUES, he draws us into the life of Les Martel, an aspiring actor and a southern fish trying to swim in northern waters. It’s a wonderful and very entertaining story that finds relevance for our present times. Well done my friend!”
Conrad John Schuck-
Television, movie and stage actor.
"Whitney LeBlanc's novel The Portrait is a stunning journey through the lives of 3 characters as they grapple with the heights of the Civil Rights Era. It deeply underscores the fact that the political is personal, as LeBlanc illuminates how the historical events that define the era reverberate in the lives of Ayre, Abbie, and L'il C, three characters of disparate backgrounds. Ultimately the book delivers a powerful message-- that the history of systemic racism in this country is a burden we all bear, regardless of ethnicity."
Rosalynde LeBlanc -
Dancer - Baryshnikov White Oak Dance Project, Chairperson Loyola Marymount University
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