H. Lawrence Gibbs

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Henry Lawrence Gibbs, Jr.​

Louisiana State Senator for
District 34 (Ouachita Parish)​
In office
1976​ – 1980​
Preceded by K. D. Kilpatrick

William Denis Brown, III (two members)​

Succeeded by Lawson Swearingen

Louisiana State Representative for
Ouachita Parish (now District 16)​
In office
1952 ​ – 1976​
Preceded by Shady Wall
Succeeded by Jimmy Dimos

Born March 7, 1919
Place of birth missing​
Died April 10, 1993 (aged 74)​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Bobbie Regina Hibbard Gibbs (died 1969)​

(2) Dorothy K. Gibbs​

Children Lawrence Gibbs, III

Kenneth L. Gibbs
​ Bobby K. Gibbs
Gary Dean Gibbs​

Residence Monroe, Louisiana​
Note:

Henry Lawrence Gibbs, Jr., known as H. Lawrence Gibbs (March 7, 1919 – April 10, 1993), was a Democratic member of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature, having served in Ouachita Parish from 1952 to 1980.[1] He was a state representative from now District 16 from 1956 to 1976, when he entered the state Senate from District 34 for a final four-year term of legislative service.[2]

Background

Gibbs was first married to the former Bobbie Regina Hibbard (1921-1969), a native of Jacksonville in Cherokee County, in east, Texas, the daughter of L. Jackson Hibbard and the former Lora Lexie Palmore. The couple had four sons, Lawrence Gibbs, III(born 1952), Kenneth L Gibbs (born 1955), Bobby K. Gibbs (born 1956), and Gary Dean Gibbs (born 1957).

After Bobbie's death, Gibbs remarried. His second wife was Dorothy K. "Dot" Gibbs (1921-1994) of Monroe.[3]

Dispute over athletic contests

​ In July 1956, Representative Gibbs sponsored legislation that would "outlaw social events and athletic contests including both Negroes and whites."[4] The House approved the bill, 71-0, with 34 members missing, and the state Senate also passed the bill unanimously. It was then signed into law by Governor Earl Kemp Long, who had returned for his third and final term in office. The law became a public issue when Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge forfeited a boxing match for Malcolm E. Buhler (born 1935) of Baton Rouge against the black fighter Orville Pitts of the University of Wisconsin.[4]

According to Richard Carlton Haney in his book Canceled Due to Racism, the impetus for Gibbs's bill was probably the preceding Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans in January 1956, when the University of Pittsburgh brought a black fullback, Bobby Grier, for the game with Georgia Tech of Atlanta, Georgia. The new law jeopardized two scheduled games between LSU and the University of Wisconsin. The Tigers were set to play in Madison, Wisconsin in 1957, and a second match-was to have followed in 1958 in Baton Rouge. Wisconsin was the only school with black players on the pending LSU schedule. Gibbs predicted that UW would have no alternative but to comply with his law or UW would lose revenue by not facing such a powerhouse team as LSU. Gibbs told The Wisconsin State Journal of Madison in an interview published on July 18, 1956, that "This will be a strong inducement for leaving their colored players at home." Instead, UW vowed not to yield to racial injustice and cancelled the football contract with LSU.[4]

Despite the football controversy, Gibbs held his own politically in the black community during his legislative years.

Other legislative matters

​ On other matters, Representative Gibbs sought during the 1960s to bring a medical school to Monroe. Instead, the former Confederate Memorial Medical Center in Shreveport was converted by the middle 1970s to a new medical school through LSU. Author Brady M. Banta attributed then state Representative J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., a Shreveport Democrat who later served from 1972 to 1997 in the United States Senate, with outmaneuvering Gibbs and the Ouachita Parish legislative delegation in procuring the medical school.[5]

Retired from the legislature, Gibbs died in Monroe at the age of seventy-four. He was succeeded in the Senate by Lawson Swearingen, a Democratic lawyer from Monroe who in 1991 became president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.​ ​

References

  1. Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1880-2020 Ouachita Parish). Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on December 6, 2019.
  2. Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-Present. Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on December 6, 2019.
  3. [​https://www.mylife.com/dorothy-gibbs/e313125635328 Dorothy Gibbs]. MyLife.com. Retrieved on December 6, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Doug Moe (September 26, 2008). UW's stand against racism not forgotten. Coulee (Wisconsin) News. Retrieved on January 15, 2010; no longer on-line.
  5. Brady M. Banta. Shreveport Gets a Medical School: Medical Education and Political Reality in Louisiana, 1950-1969 435–456. Jstor.

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