Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Connie Atkinson

Second Advisor

Mary Niall Mitchell

Third Advisor

Charles Chamberlain


In 1942, in New Orleans a group of intellectual and artistic African-Americans, led by Marcus B. Christian, formed an art club named Les Cenelles Society of Arts and Letters. Les Cenelles members both looked to New Orleans’s Afro-Creole population as the pinnacle of African American artistic achievements and used their example as a model for artists who sought to effect social change. Many of the members of Les Cenelles wrote for the Louisiana Federal Writers’ Program (FWP). A key strategy the members of Les Cenelles used to accomplish their goals was gaining the support of white civic leaders, in particular Lyle Saxon. Christian and Saxon’s relationship was unusual in the 1940s Jim Crow era in the sense that it was built upon mutual respect and admiration. This thesis examines both the efforts of Les Cenelles and the black division of the FWP, as well as Christian and Saxon’s relationship.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.