Artist Statement Submitted 2020My color photographs document a unique New Orleans Black cultural tradition: second line parades. The parades evolved from the funeral processions sponsored by social aid and pleasure clubs that arose in the 1880s to provide Black Americans insurance and burials at a time when insurance companies did not offer them coverage. The parades further evolved from West African dance circles and Congo Square dances held on Sundays, during slavery times the afternoons off, with added elements inspired by military brass bands. For a time, the dances were banned, deemed threatening to the city’s white inhabitants. The parades, rich in ceremony and ritual, exuberantly express the right of Black Americans to publicly parade while preserving a vibrant cultural and artistic heritage.
My passion for documenting and preserving a record of New Orleans’ second line parade culture has resulted in thousands of photographs from having spent over a decade following the weekly parade schedule.