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Fri, 09.29.1933

John W. Joseph, Politician and Activist born

John W. Joseph

*John W. Joseph was born on this date in 1933. He was a Black politician and community activist.

John Wilfred Joseph was the son of Reverend Adam Joseph and Mrs. Julia Lee Jones Joseph. He was born and raised on his father's farm in Plaisance, Louisiana, during racial segregation.  The state's dual education system relegated him to a minimum and hand-me-down materials for education.

1951 Joseph graduated with honors from St. Landry Parish Colored Training School. He then attended Leland College and graduated magna cum laude in May 1955. He earned a master's degree in Administration and Supervision from Southern University. An additional thirty graduate hours were earned at LSU and Clark Atlanta University

On Christmas Eve, 1955, John W. Joseph married Cecile Catherine Slaughter; the couple had eight children. Joseph began teaching in the St. Landry Parish Public School System in January 1958.  He was a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, assistant principal, principal, school system supervisor, and director of federal programs. After 32 years with St. Landry Parish Public School System, Joseph retired. In 1986, he was elected the 17th Mayor of the City of Opelousas and the 1st African American Mayor of Louisiana's 3rd oldest City. He was re-elected in 1990.

As a public, Joseph was appointed to statewide positions by three Louisiana Governors with confirmations by the State Senate. He was Deputy Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Social Services. Joseph was a member of the Southern University Board of Supervisors for 8 1/2 years, a member of the Louisiana Board of Regents Committee on Academic and Student Affairs, and was elected parish-wide member for three terms on the St. Landry Parish Democratic Executive Committee.

He was co-owner of Ford and Joseph Funeral Home, Inc., a member of Keystone Lodge No. 196, Commander-In-Chief of R.B. Jones, Sr. Consistory, No. 298, and as a member of Iota Epsilon Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. To document his legacy, he penned a book entitled "From Farm Boy to First Black Mayor" in 2006. John W. Joseph died at Opelousas General Health System on November 3, 2017.

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