New Orleans is a city with a deep black history and culture. Over the years some of the sites have been destroyed, replaced or renames, but the history still remains.
Here is an itinerary you can follow to see many of the Black Heritage sites in New Orleans, as well as other popular attractions.
Stop at Café Rose Nicaud for a cup of coffee. This café was named after a slave who was New Orleans first coffee vendor. She used to sell coffee from a portable cart, and eventually bought her freedom with the money she earned at her coffee stand near St. Louis Cathedral. This coffee shop stands in her honor. Then head to Louis Armstrong Park. This park was named after an amazingly talented African American who crossed over to mainstream music. He was the grandson of slaves who faced quite an uphill battle. At the park there are sculptures of him and other famous African American musicians such as Buddy Bolden. There are beautiful gardens to view as well as the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Ms. Jackson was a crucial part of the civil rights movement. Congo Square is also located here. It’s a place where slaves socialized in the 1700s. There they would enjoy music, song & danced on Sunday afternoons. Among the most famous dances were the Bamboula, the Calinda & the Congo. These African American cultural expressions gradually developed into Mardis Gras traditions. Afterwards visit St. Augustine Church which is nearby Louis Armstrong Park. It’s the second oldest African American Catholic Church in the nation. Visitors can take a tour, but they have call ahead to inquire about them. Walk through Treme, America’s 1st African American neighborhood. It was also the site of significant economic, cultural, social, legal and political events in Black America for the past 2 centuries. For example it was the first region where slaves who bought their freedom were able to purchase property. This was significant, as America was still immersed in slavery in the early 18th century.
For lunch, check out Dooky Chase Restaurant. This is considered to be the place where you can get real creole cuisine. The upstairs dining room used to be used as a secret meeting room in the 1960’s for Civil Rights activists. This place is quite famous. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both dined at Dooky’s as well as other famous diners including Jesse Jackson, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles & the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. While there, make sure you check out all of the African American artwork that covers the walls. There are a lot of great museums to visit in the afternoon. The Backstreet Cultural Museum, McKenna Museum of African American Culture and Le Musee de f.p.c. At the Backstreet Museum you can see the largest collection of hand made Mardi Gras costumes that cost over $10K each.
For dinner, drinks and nightlife, there are many different places you can go to. Blue Nile Nightclub is housed in a building that was constructed in 1832. Maple Leaf Bar is pretty famous for featuring some of the best local musicians. Willie Mae’s is the place to go for fried chicken. It has been open since 1957. Willie Mae’s first opened as a bar combined with a barbershop & beauty salon. In 2005, Ms. Wilie Mae Seaton was honored with the prestigious James Beard Award for “America’s Classic Restaurant for Southern Region.” For those looking for some good old soul food, head over to Ma Momma’s House for chicken and waffles or shrimp and grits. If you want to experience a tamer version of nightlife, head over to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. Here you can see a variety of performances that are famous in their own right.
Other notable Black Heritage sites in New Orleans:
African American Museum – located inside of the Treme Villa, the museum showcases African American history & art. It is said that a voodoo priestess lived here in the 1800’s.
Dillard University – rated one of the top 10 historic black universities in the country.
French Market – Oldest public market in New Orleans that was designed by a man that had bought his freedom, Joseph Albeilard. It was a place of trade back in the 1700’s. It is a great place to buy items made by locals including clothing, jewelry, crafts and art.
Visit former homes of Louis Armstrong & James Booker.
Whitney Plantation – located about an hour from New Orleans, it is the only plantation museum with a focus on slavery. The plantation gives a voice to slaves with worked and lived in Louisiana through historic buildings, exhibits and memorials.