Artist Statement Submitted 2019Charles Lovell’s color photographs document a unique New Orleans African American cultural tradition: second line parades. The parades evolved from the funeral processions sponsored by the social aid and pleasure clubs that arose in the 1880s to provide African Americans insurance and burials at a time when insurance companies did not always offer them coverage. The parades further evolved from West African dance circles and the Congo Square dances held on Sundays (the afternoon off) during slavery, with added elements inspired by military brass bands. The parades exuberantly express the right of African Americans to publicly parade while preserving a rich cultural and artistic heritage through ceremony and ritual.
Lovell’s passion for documenting and preserving a record of New Orleans’ second line parade culture has resulted in thousands of photographs drawn from over a decade of following the weekly parade schedule, which runs most of the year, with a short summer break.