Black History Month – Lutrill and Pearl Payne


Any mention of Black History in Natchitoches Parish must include the names of Pearl and Lutrill Payne. The Paynes married in 1939. They returned to Natchitoches in 1945 after he served three years in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Having earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Southern University, Payne was denied admission to Louisiana State University. In 1951, he sued LSU because of its segregation policy and won.

He was admitted to the graduate school of agriculture as the first black person to integrate LSU.

In Natchitoches Parish, he was the first black person to register to vote, run for public office, sit on a bank board and be appointed to the Parish Civil Service Board.

Pearl Payne was by her husband’s side during his remarkable life. An educator, she earned her master’s degree in education from LSU by driving back and forth from Baton Rouge two days a week to attend classes.

She was the first black person to receive a master’s degree in education.

Mr. Payne died in 1999 and Mrs. Payne died in November of 2018 at age 100.