Educator and nonprofit executive Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr. was born on April 11, 1944 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He graduated from McDonogh 35 High School in 1962. Pijeaux attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and received his B.S. degree. He later earned his M.A.T. degree from Tulane University in New Orleans; and his Ed.D. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Pijeaux also completed a post-graduate program at the Getty Leadership Institute for Museum Management at the University of California, Berkeley.
Pijeaux worked for nearly twenty years in the New Orleans Public School System. While in this system, he served as Principal of L.B. Landry High School. During his tenure, he helped reduce the dropout rate from nearly thirty percent to only fifteen percent. He later worked at the Indianapolis Museum of Art before being recruited to lead the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Pijeaux retired as President and CEO of the Institute in 2014 only one month shy of a twenty-year tenure. He led the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute through its accreditation from the American Association of Museums in 2005; becoming an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in 2007; and receiving two national awards—both presented by First Lady Laura Bush at the White House in Washington, D.C.—the “Coming Up Taller Award for Community Service” in 2007 and the “Inaugural National Medal for Museum Service” in 2008.
In addition to his professional career, Pijeaux served as a board member in a number of organizations. From 2006 until 2008, he served as president of the Association of African American Museums, in addition to being named to the National Museum and Library Services Board in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Pijeaux has also served on the board of the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science, and the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel.
Pijeaux has been recognized and awarded for his contributions to the education community during his career. In 1989, he was named as one of ten “American Heroes in Education” by Reader’s Digest and was named Alabama Tourism Executive of the Year in 2006 as well. Pijeaux was also the recipient of the Smithsonian Institute’s Award for Museum Leadership and the Association of African American Museum’s Service and Achievement Award. In 2015, Pijeaux was inducted into the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame.
Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr., Ed.D. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 3, 2017.