Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dutch Morial And The Police Strike Of 1979

Illustration by Jasper Means
Ernest 'Dutch' Morial

In 1979, Ernest "Dutch" Morial became the first black mayor of New Orleans. He won the election with 95% of the black vote, and just 20% of the white vote. He campaigned on a platform of police reform, but it wasn’t just Dutch who wanted to re-organize the NOPD – they were organizing themselves. They wanted a union, pay increases, and better working conditions. Soon after Dutch took office, the police wasted no time. They staged their first strike, in history. Their bargaining tool? Mardi Gras.

Listen to the Sticky Wicket podcast for free!

As the mayor and his police department stood head to head, the city’s most beloved tradition was on the line. And the press was covering every twist and turn of this three-week power grab. Who ultimately came out on top? And is a win even possible, if there are no parades? Find out what went down, how Dutch performed under pressure, and whether or not the city had his back. 

*CORRECTION: The radioi story stays that Dutch Morial defeated Joe DiRosa in the mayoral runoff. DiRosa is identifed as a former NOPD chief. This is incorrect. DiRosa was a city councilman. 

Listen to Episode 1 of Sticky Wicket about former Louisiana Governor & US Senator Huey Long.

Listen to Episode 2 of Sticky Wicket about former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.

Listen to Episode 4 of Sticky Wicket about former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.

Read Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir's article on the police strike in 64 Parishes Magazine. 

Follow Sticky Wicket on instagram at @stickywicketpod.


Sticky Wicket is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities thanks The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership. This radio series and podcast runs in tandem with four articles written in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 64 Parishes magazine, and is also in partnership with Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Communication.