Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation shows Louisiana’s impact on the nation and the world. From the Louisiana Purchase to the critical role Louisiana played in our nation’s wars (including the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, the Civil War and both World Wars), you will come to understand the scope and importance of the historical contributions of Louisianians. A section on Governor Huey P. Long and jazz pioneer Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong showcases the larger-than-life personalities and accomplishments of two of the state’s most notable residents.
Displays also examine the Mississippi River, from its environmental significance to its role in commerce. Louisiana’s diverse wildlife, agricultural history and fishing and hunting traditions comprise the Natural Abundance feature. A detailed segment on the Poverty Point World Heritage Site in northeast Louisiana investigates these exceptional prehistoric American Indian earthworks.
Lastly, slavery and civil rights are explored, with an emphasis on the 1896 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Louisiana case that upheld the “separate but equal” practices of legal segregation despite the concerted efforts of Homer Plessy and other activists. This section ends with a look at the Baton Rouge bus boycott of 1953 and its role in the modern civil rights movement. Artifacts in Grounds for Greatness include a 42-foot wooden shrimp trawler, a Civil War submarine, a mid-1800s cotton gin and a sugarcane harvester.