Baton Rouge talk show host Dianne Andrews will tape a program at the Arcade Theatre in Ferriday at 11 a.m. Feb. 17th.
The taping is open to the public.
As a part of Black History Month, Andrews will look back at the region’s racial past with several interviews, including David Whatley, the first black person to integrate Ferriday High in 1966, and Debra Taylor, formerly of Harrisonburg, whose father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan offshoot known as the Silver Dollar Group.
In late 2016 Andrews hosted two shows at her studio in Baton Rouge that centered on Ferriday and this region.
LSU Manship School Civil Rights Cold Case team member David LaPlante has also been featured on Andrews’ show. His story of Debra Taylor’s life as the child of a Klansman was also featured in The Advocate in Baton Rouge last May.
Andrews said the focus of the taping in Ferriday would be a message of hope for all survivors of the era and a theme of racial healing.
Whatley was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in Ferriday during the mid-1960s. His grandmother, Alberta Whatley, made her home a safe haven to many activists, including those with CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), who worked in Ferriday in 1965.
Additionally, David Whatley was a member of the Deacons of Defense, an organization of armed black men who defended black neighborhoods from Klan attacks.
As a result of the activism of Whatley and his grandmother, the Klan attempted to destroy the Whatley home in 1966 with a bomb but the device — strapped with dynamite — failed to properly detonate. In his book, “Devils Walking,” Concordia Sentinel editor Stanley Nelson identified Debra Taylor’s father — Sonny Taylor of Harrisonburg — as one of the men the FBI identified as involved in the bombing of the Whatley home.
Whatley’s enrollment as the first black at Ferriday High came during the desegregation of southern schools following passage of the Civil Rights of 1965. Federal Judge Ben C. Dawkins Jr.’s ruling required the Concordia Parish School Board to admit Whatley to Ferriday High, where Klansmen and others harassed him for an extended period
The host of the Ferriday tapings, Andrews graduated from college with a B.S. in Mathematics. After graduation, she went to work for IBM in Endicott, NY, and later at IBM/NASA location at Johnston Space Center in Houston working as a computer programmer on the Space Shuttle project.
While at IBM she held several executive management positions and obtained her MBA. She has also worked for a number of other corporations.
Andrews is the owner of Home Health Solutions, LLC in Baton Rouge.
She is the author of three books: “Third Man Out,” “Gumbo For The Heart” and “Eye of Revenge.”
She is active in charity work and community improvement projects.
Andrews speaks at conferences across the country, and produces and hosts the “issue-based” television show, “Dianne Andrews In Black & White.”
Guests have included General Russel Honoré and a host of other state personalities. While her show sometimes tackles hot topics, she also hosts religious roundtables and believes that “to come to a better understanding in life we must all listen.”
Andrews says her philosophy is: “Between black and white there are always shades of gray! Be tolerant and Light your Light!”