Anthony G. Facen
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Anthony G. Facen

“I’ll Fight You Till Hell Freezes Over!” were his fighting words! He was one of the parish's greatest Black educators, Black Leader!

Anthony G. Facen was a civil rights activist and educator in the Black community in the 35 year period between 1940 and 1975.

Facen, a former high school principal in Sterlington, became active in the fight for equal rights in the 1940’s coming out against unequal pay for teachers. He was at the center of most militant undertakings of the 40’s and 50’s that involved equalizing teacher salaries and school facilities in the parish. He was born on August 20, 1989 in Lake Providence, La.

He graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1922. In 1923 he came to Ouachita Parish to assume a teaching career that began at $250.00 per year. He began teaching crowded classrooms of students in a Mineral Springs church. After five months of the overcrowded church rooms Facen donated money that was used to buy a 20 acre tract of land. The community worked the land and harvested cotton and used the proceeds to hire teachers for the Mineral Springs School. In 1925 the school board built a building on the land the community purchased after he gave a $250.00 donation. The school board provided a carpenter the community did the rest.

Today Central Elementary School sits on the site. In 1933 Facen left the teaching profession to become the first Black County Agent. In 1948 he returned to the parish school system and worked in Sterlington until 1964 when he retired. Facen believed in the courts and the constitution of the United States. His battle cry became “
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A.G. Facen was not stranger to controversy

I’ll keep you in court for the next 40 years.” At his urging and others suits were filed for equal school facilities in the parish, long before the Supreme Court made it’s historic ruling in 1954. Suits were filed for equalizing teacher pay. During the 60’s Facen and others worked to get federal grants for Community Action and Head Start and he became the object of considerable controversy.

As whites began to threaten his actions and those of other Blacks in the areas of voting and political involvement through their organization called the “White Citizens Council” Facen shocked the white community and most Blacks when he formed the “Black Citizens Council” and stepped up his militancy. Using the Black Citizens’ Council as his base of support he launched an attack on discrimination in public bodies and supported local civil rights desegregation efforts. During the late 60’s his was the lone voice of militancy that was heard consistently and effectively. Facen filed suits against the Ouachita Parish School Board and Police Jury, forcing them to reapportion and guarantee Black representation.

The seventeen members of both boards laughed when the aging Facen walked into the board room and promised to get Black faces on the board and the removal of many of the whites. They dismissed him as a crazy old man that would be dead before any of his threats could be carried out. Facen found a local white attorney, Paul Henry Kidd, Sr. and filed his suits and won, not only did he get Black representation on both boards but reduced the size of the boards from 17 to six, ousting many of the whites who laughed at him.

Facen taunted them in the news media “I told you I’d fight you till hell freezes over” he said. In his senior years, he turned his attention to the Monroe City School Board, irritated at the board’s failure to desegregate. His lasting contribution to Black heritage in Ouachita Parish is the presence of Blacks on the Ouachita Parish School Board and Police Jury, and his famous words “I’ll fight you till hell freezes over.”