Rev. Albert D'Orlando
About Albert ..........
Papers in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library
First Universalist
Unitarian Church of New Orleans


The D'Orlando Lecture on Social Justice this year will be given
by Edd Doerr, Executive Director,
Americans for Religious Liberty
on "The Growing Threat to Separation of Church and State"

November 15, 2003 at 5:00pm at the First Universalist Unitarian Church of New Orleans.

The Americans for Religious Liberty organization believes in the unique American principle of separation of church and state and the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison that gave birth to this tradition. Members believe in the free exercise of conscience and religion. They believe that restraining anyone from such exercise should occur only when he or she harms others or the public welfare. The organization opposes any effort to place ethnic, racial, religious, gender, or age limitation on the enjoyment of rights or equal treatment.

Mr. Doerr is also the immediate past president of the American Humanist Association, a board member on the National Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and a board member on the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

He is a writer, editor, publisher, lecturer, and a very, very entertaining speaker. We hope that as many church members and friends as possible will attend the lecture. There will be a Q&A session after the lecture and a reception with refreshments after that, giving all those who attend a chance to chat with Mr. Doerr informally.

Please put this event on your calendar, and don't miss it!!

About Albert

In memoriam:
1915 - 1998
The following is a New Orleans Times-Picayune article
which appeared on March 3, 1998 by Mark Schliefstein.


The Rev. Albert D'Orlando, minister emeritus of First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans and a civil rights activist for nearly half a century, died Saturday at Meadowcrest Hospital of complications from a stroke. He was 83.

The Rev. D'Orlando fought racism and segregation for many years and later opposed the Vietnam War. His house and church were firebombed in 1965. "He was a tremendous role model who believed that faith means nothing if you don't put your beliefs into action," said Martha Kegel, former executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "He was a New Englander who came South and fought racism, and eventually, he became the conscience of the New Orleans community."

A native of Boston, the Rev. D'Orlando graduated from Tufts University in Medford, Mass., with a master's degree in theology. After his ordination in 1945, he was named the minister of two small churches in New Hampshire. He came to New Orleans in 1950 and almost immediately moved to integrate his Jefferson Avenue church. Although a number of church members resigned, Kegel said, "He made the Unitarian Church into virtually the only place in white New Orleans where whites and blacks could meet together."

In 1956, he helped found the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1958, he was ordered to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee after being identified as a member of the Communist Party by a New Hampshire homemaker. After the closed hearing, the Rev. D'Orlando said he had never been a member of the party. "His getting dragged before the committee clearly related to his civil rights stance, "Kegel said. "At that time, any person who stood up for civil rights was a communist in (the committee's) eyes."

In1960, as New Orleans prepared to deal with court-ordered school desegregation, the Rev. D'Orlando had his congregation set up a Freedom Fund to provide legal and other assistance to those fighting for desegregation. Within a few weeks, the fund had collected $25,000, largely from other Unitarian churches throughout the nation.

Also at his urging, the church's youth group participated in sit-ins at lunch counters on Canal Street, said his daughter, Lissa Dellinger. Two youngsters were arrested and charged with criminal anarchy; they were found guilty of criminal mischief and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Through the Rev. D'Orlando's leadership, the church raised money to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the convictions were thrown out, Dellinger said.

When the first black children integrated white public schools, the church provided financial assistance to white families who decided to send their childrento school with the black children. In 1962, the church paid some of the legal expenses of two black students who filed a federal suit to integrate Tulane University. When Tulane officials agreed to admit the students, the church paid their registration fees and for their books. The church later paid the expenses of a New Orleans lawyer who represented civil rights workers in Mississippi.

The Rev. D'Orlando's civil rights activities resulted in many threats to himself and his family, he said in a speech several years ago. "It was not at all unusual for us to receive phone calls at 3 in the morning warning us that if we did not leave the house within 15 minures, a bomb would destroy our home," he said. At midnight one Saturday in March 1965, his house was fire-bombed while he was working on a sermon he planned to deliver the next morning condemning similar bombings in Alabama. Two months later, the front of his church was destroyed by dynamite. The bombings were two of more than a dozen that occurred in New Orleans that spring Authorities tied the bombing of his house to members of the United Klans of America, a wing of the Ku Klux Klan. Three men were convicted in the incident and sentenced to five years in prison.

In recognition of his establishment of the Freedom Fund, he was awarded the Holmes-Weatherly Award in 1966 by the Unitarian Fellowship of Social Justice. In the late 1960's, the Rev. D'Orlando turned his attention to the Vietnam War, using his pulpit to oppose U.S. intervention, and church money to defend student protesters.

As a church leader, he was instrumental in establishing several Unitarian churches in the New Orleans region, said his wife, Dr. R. Catherine Cohen. He retired as pastor of First Unitarian Church in 1981 but continued to be active in community and civil rights causes. "He remained completely active and committed to his causes up to the last moment he drew breath,"Kegel said. "He was raising funds, participating in committees."

The Rev. D'Orlando was given the Ben Smith Award by the American Civil Liberties Union for his lifelong work for social justice. Besides his wife and daughter, survivors include three brothers, Leonard, Mike, and Ted D'Orlando; a sister, Edith McLaughlin; and two grandchildren.

The Annual D'Orlando Lecture on Social Justice

First Unitarian-Universalist Church of New Orleans
5212 South Claiborne Ave (Corner of Jefferson)

Previous Years

1999 - Mr. Tom Teepen
1998 - David Dellinger
1997 - Sister Helen Prejean
1996 - Clarence L. Barney
1995 - Announcment of the Annual Lecture: Lolis Elie and Philip Zwerling