A marriage of convenience: Quebec's influence on the rise of the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana
The purpose of this study was to discover the origins of the Louisiana French movement. Who were the people and what strategies did they use to implement a forward-looking language program in a state known as a laggard in education? Many myths exist about the origins of the movement, its linguistic policies, and the identity of its intellectual progenitors. Information about the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) and the movement that led to its creation lies buried in archival collections or is known only in part to a few surviving participants.
Through a historical approach, research in various archival records, interviews, and personal knowledge, this study reconstructs the history of the French movement between 1965 and 1974. It first examines the crucial roles of early pioneers such as Allen Babineaux and prominent government officials from Louisiana and Quebec. Second, this study focuses on former Congressman James Domengeaux, founder of CODOFIL, to dispel long-held theories about the scope and nature of his invaluable contributions to French in Louisiana.
This study concludes that the French renaissance and CODOFIL could never have happened without the contributions of their early participants and especially those of Quebec officials who provided both the blueprint as well as financial and technical support. James Domengeaux, who undertook the task of directing the Quebec-Louisiana francophone plan in 1967, consolidated the movement and achieved major progress. He also leveraged his powerful connections with members of the state legislature and other political figures to bestow the movement with the vitality it needed. Under the CODOFIL umbrella he gained the official support of Quebec, France, and the founders of the French movement. Significantly, Quebec continued to play a major role when a former aide to Quebec's Prime Minister, Leo LeBlanc, was appointed to support Domengeaux in launching a progressive French language and exchange program. Despite the strong political implications of the various French initiatives, Domengeaux's goal was simple: to provide every child with the opportunity to become bilingual.
0337: American history