A 1973 “Black Politics Series” in the New Orleans States-Item included journalist and public relations guru Bill Rouselle alongside the city’s leading attorneys, activists and politicians.
Rouselle has worked in City Hall and throughout the community. He’s served as director of the city’s Human Relations Committee, moderated “Nation Time,” a public affairs show on WYES-TV and was an advisor to The Plain Truth, an African American newspaper focused on civil rights.
A survey of Amistad’s myriad archival collections, pertaining to New Orleans politics and the arts, reveals Rouselle’s name throughout these collections. Now, the journalist who was mentored in civil rights by activist Oretha Castle Haley has started assembling his own collection. His desire to add to the Amistad Research Center’s collection of personal papers stems from his own knowledge of the importance of institutions like Amistad.
“By necessity we had to go research to make sure we got accurate information from the source. We wanted to read what a person had to say and not rely on what someone else wrote about them,” Rouselle remembers about utilizing ARC when it was housed at Dillard University. “It was always a good resource, and I have always been supportive of the institution.”
Through the years, Rouselle’s work on his “Liberty Network” cable access show in the ’90s; his service as deputy director of the city’s Human Relations Committee in 1968; and certainly his tenure at WDSU-TV, as the station’s first black reporter, has been greatly enhanced by Amistad’s holdings.
“I didn’t choose a career where I made lots of money. I make these contributions from the heart. It’s about what I believe in,” Rouselle says of his work helping to both identify papers and help acquire materials Amistad might want to collect.
These days, Rouselle’s clients include New Orleans East Hospital, Liberty Bank and companies seeking business with the city. Now 72, Rouselle is actively involved in outreach to rebuild the local public school system. So far, Bright Moments has orchestrated community buy-in to help the state and Orleans Parish School Board rebuild or renovate 50 schools.
On Feb. 22, he’ll debut a documentary he’s produced about Haley, who “was like a big sister” to him, for the upcoming New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Celebrates Black History Month program at the New Orleans Jazz Market. And when he’s finished with all of that, Rouselle sits in on talks about Amistad’s new auxiliary space at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, “to raise the profile of a cultural gem.”
“They say when you get old, you’re supposed to fade off into the sunset. I tell them ‘I’m not old; I’m chronologically gifted.’”
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