Laverne Ridley Monroe
Civil Rights
African American History

Laverne was born in Smackover, Arkansas, the daughter of W.C and Nodie Norton Ridley, but was raised in Cleveland Parish near Houma, Louisiana. While she had only one brother, she lived with 12 cousins in the home of her paternal grandmother, Minnie Ridley, "who whipped us everyday whether we did anything or not." She recalls few toys. The children played baseball and rolled tires. The women in the family cooked on a wood stove, preparing vegetables they raised as well as meat from their own hogs, cattle, and chicken. Laverne went to school to the eighth grade. Her father re-married and took her and her brother with him when he moved to Shreveport. There she married Early D. Monroe on September 20, 1940 and had four children. Early picked cotton to support the family, then later worked at B&B Cut Stone, where he eventually retired. Laverne worked as a cook in private homes, earning only twenty dollars a week in the 1950s. The white children of one family she helped raise, she says, still come see her today when they return to Shreveport. Laverne's and Early's own four children went on to college, graduating from Grambling State University and Southern University. During the 1960s she saw Dr. Harry Blake, a civil rights leader, badly injured in a march to Little Union Church. Relations are better today, she believes, but feels that much progress still needs to be made.