Succeed despite obstacles

Welcome to the amazing Xavier story



The Xavier Story Project

Xavier's story is unlike any other, and yet, like New Orleans, it is quintessentially American. Meet some of the people who've made it happen.

In its 95-year history, Xavier University of Louisiana has faced adversities almost Biblical in scope. Hurricanes. Floods. Cultural revolution. State and local governments that fought against its very existence. Xavier, the nation’s only Catholic and historically black university, was founded by a white nun who was determined to admit students of all faiths and races—and to do it in the same city, New Orleans, where Plessy v. Ferguson had prompted decades of enforced segregation, all throughout the South. That nun, Mother Katharine Drexel, has since been canonized a saint. Meanwhile, Xavier has thrived.

On this website you will find interviews with men and women who’ve lived through some of these events, along with “behind the scenes” correspondence, photographs, audio and video recordings, and documents that reveal Xavier University’s history and its role in America’s civil rights struggle. You’ll also find a list of related projects that Xavier students and faculty are developing now, as well as an interactive map of Xavier students and alumni around the world. By gathering these materials here, the Xavier Story Project aims to create a framework where students, alumni, faculty, and staff can not only explore their common history, but also record their own stories, today and in the future.

Explore the Story

Start with the Timeline to scroll through Xavier’s story since 1889. Go to Story to browse interviews, newsreel footage, photographs, and historical documents. Click Interviews to see more interview highlights, or Projects to see what Xavier students are working on now.

Click here to start at the timeline

Timeline graphic orientation