New Orleans is a gumbo of European, African, and Caribbean cultures. The 300 year-old city has a proud community whose historic local traditions that still play out in its streets. Katrina is a decade past, and the city is revitalizing with a restored interest, but fame doesn’t guarantee longevity. Financial woes and socioeconomic changes threaten this living cultural treasure.
This project celebrates the culture bearers who continue these traditions today. New Orleans is an artist working in a float den; Mardi Gras Indians sewing all night and working all day; Musicians setting the beat for the crowds; Generations of plutocrats dangling beads to the masses; It is this and so much more.
As a southern city, the legacy of enslavement has a lingering effect on the community. Division and racial tension became the roots of jazz around 1815, as African culture mixed with regional communities. In 1857 the wealthy white Mistick Krewe of Comus debuted parade floats to enchant carnival crowds. Others like Knights of Momus grabbed headlines for mocking reconstruction and President Grant. Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs started forming after the Civil War to bolster black communities. In the 1880s Black Indians stood as the first form of American Civil Rights Protest against the segregation of Carnival season. Zulu, the first black krewe, appeared in 1909 and expropriated the use of blackface as a form of resistance and satire. Since then, New Orleans has continued to evolve and inspire the world. Despite challenges, New Orleans culture has the ability to seek the silver lining.