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Jeanne's Take |
March 8, 2017
I know just of few of us had to work today despite the worldwide call for all women to stay home to demonstrate a "World without Women".
As I pondered the meaning of International Women's Day my mind zeroed in immediately on some of what I call my favorite "hero-women". They are not heroes for rescuing someone from a fire, or helping to win a war, or leading some huge movement.
My heroes are women who shrugged off obstacles, persisted in chasing personal or community wide dreams, envisioning a new way of doing things or simply living independent lives of their own design.
It is actually a fairly long list, so my selection of women to converse with this evening to commemorate International Women's day is just the tip of the ice berg. (Hmmm, I wonder how much longer that metaphor will last.)
One of the first people I thought of is Sybil Morial. She is a hero to me for being such a consistently gracious but steadfast leader in our city. She is a hero also for writing "Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment", documenting the changes we have experienced before and since the days of segregation.
Dr. Vera Triplett has been fighting the odds to open a new kind of therapeutic school, Noble Minds Institute for Whole Child Learning. I also know her in other arenas as someone not afraid to do the right thing under pressure, and as a champion for at risk youth.
Bonnie Boyd has distinguished herself as the CEO of one of the city's leading tourism businesses, BBC Destination Management, in an industry generally led by men.
Susan Henry is the only woman heading up a local radio station, WBOK 1230 AM. As such, she is bringing it forward as the contemporary voice of New Orleans it has always meant to be
Local attorney Jennifer Green has picked up the baton of political activism to help build Emerge Louisiana, a branch of the new national movement to elect more women to office.
Since Katrina, Millisia White has revived a tradition birthed in 1912 in a nuanced challenge to segregation by black women sex workers who chose to march for Mardi Gras, a first in itself, and to call themselves "Baby Dolls" to declare their precious status. That then audacious gesture has survived more than a century, freshened by Millisia White.
Let's hear it for and from the women tonight, with nods to the past and plans for the future, on Crosstown Conversation, 6PM on WBOK1230 AM or streaming.
Host and Executive Producer
Sybil Haydel Morial
Sybil Morial, a New Orleans native, was a classroom teacher and a Xavier University administrator. She is a civil rights and community activist and was married to Ernest "Dutch" Morial, the first African American Mayor of New Orleans.
After her retirement, she wrote and published her memoir, "Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment"
With over thirty years of experience, Bonnie Boydheads up BBC is an advocate for the Destination Management industry and the city of New Orleans.
She is a founding board member of MPI Gulf-States and founding member of SITE Southeast, and pioneered the DMC industry in the region.
A local attorney, Jennifer Greene
is one of the Founders of Emerge Louisiana, and currently serves on the Komen New Orleans Board, Ignite for Change Board, Dress for Success Board and the Louisiana Association for Justice Board of Governors.
She is also a Commissioner on the New Orleans Historic District Landmark Commission.
Dr. Vera Triplett
Dr. Triplett is spearheading a new therapeutic school called the Noble Minds Institute for Whole
Child Learning that integrates both her education and mental health backgrounds. She also founded a girls group called Real Women Cover their Butts and serves as a mentor for the Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Foundation and serves on the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Parkways, Junior Achievement, Operation Spark and International High School Boards.
A New Orleans native and accomplished choreographer, Millisia White is the founder & artistic director of the New Orleans Society Of Dance, a culturally centered dance company, dedicated to promoting women's arts in New Orleans.
Since Hurricane Katrina, Millisia has advocated for cultural renewal in her hometown with the dance company's signature ensemble, known as "The New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies".
Susan is the General Manager of WBOK radio and sits on the advisory board of the mentor program Dibia Dream and is a fellow of the Ortique Leadership Institute.
She has over a decade of experience in leadership positions in both marketing and radio. Using her expertise in journalism, Susan writes a bi-weekly spotlight for WBOK and partnering organizations.
Emerge Louisiana is launching in 2017 as the premier campaign-training program for Democratic women in the state. Emerge inspires women to run for public office, and hones their skills to win with the clear goal to increase the number of Democratic women in all levels of public office throughout the state. Emerge Louisiana is joining 18 other state affiliates of the national organization, Emerge America.
While women comprise more than 50% of the electorate, they still hold just 29% of elected offices in this country. Louisiana has sent only two women to the U.S. House of Representatives (both of whom succeeded their husbands); only three women to the U.S. Senate; and only one woman has ever served as Governor of Louisiana. They were all Democrats. There are only three Democratic women in the 39-member state senate and only eight in the 105-member house of representatives. This dismal lack of Democratic women in office underscores the fact that a very large pool of highly-qualified candidates is being left untapped.
Studies show women tend to introduce more bills in Congress, be more collaborative and consensus driven, and lead on issues related to family, health care, childcare, education, violence against women and reproductive health. That's why increasing the number of Democratic women candidates is so important. Emerge Louisiana intends to level the playing field, de-mystify the process of engaging in politics, and identify and train women who have thought about running for office, but who may assume they lack the necessary experience or connections to mount a successful campaign.
Emerge Louisiana's role is to:
- Recruit women to run for office at all levels of government
- Train them to run effective campaigns and win races
- Provide a powerful network to support women running for office
Founded only 10 years ago and operating in 18 states, the Emerge affiliates have trained over 2,000 women nationwide, creating a powerful pipeline of Democratic women running in politically important districts. In 2016, over 325 Emerge alumnae ran for office across the country and 70% won their election More information at:
Creative Industries Day
Presents on March 20th
Panels, Pitch Contest and "What's Up"
World, Regional and Local Culture and Creative Industries Update
New Orleans; The Creative Industries economic sector generates 30 million jobs
globally and $704.2 billion in U.S. GDP alone. It is also one of the fastest growing
What does this mean for New Orleans? As a global leader in original creative
content, it should mean we are poised to become a leading global economic center
How can we do this? What is the role of creatives and other economic
development business and civic leaders? What can the average citizen do to help?
These are questions the Creative Alliance of New Orleans, Louisiana
Cultural Economy Foundation and the Downtown Development District are addressing
with the special program, "Creative Industries Day" that opens on the first day of New
Orleans Entrepreneur Week, Monday, March 20
th, at 11:00AM., continuing through to
8:30 in the evening, at the Contemporary Arts Center at 900 Camp Street, and at the
Ogden Museum, 925 Camp Street.
The day opens at 11:00AM with a panel called "What's Up in the Creative World
and Creative New Orleans." Creative industry leaders from UNESCO, Pittsburgh, New
Orleans, and St. Bernard, as well as leading artists give us a heads up on surprising
developments and strategies for growth. From major new festivals, co-op network and funding, to creative marketing
strategies, expert speakers reveal the astounding changes in just the past few years on
how seriously many cities, states and nations are taking the economic implications of
cultural and creative industries development.
UNESCO leader Felicia Rosita reports on their research into world wide creative
industries trends. UNESCO leader Felicia Rosita shares case studies of how
communities world wide are working to grow their creative industries. Learn how Kim
Chestney, head of Creative Industries Network in Pittsburg has fostered a productive
collaboration with the Technology Council to advance the arts and cultural economies. Ed Morgan of Morgan and Co, a leading innovator in social media marketing offers his
perspective on marketing for creative producers and initiatives Hear from artist and
advocate Mitch Gaudet about how artists and public officials are re-branding St. Bernard
Parish, once an agricultural and petro-chemical center as a new center for the creative
"CANO, further, continues its collaboration with leaders to foster a coalition to
identify and secure more substantial and sustained funding for creative art and industries
creators, producers and organizers," said Jeanne Nathan, CANO's Executive Director.
Small creative business owners are up next at 1:15PM, sharing their successful
efforts as well as their challenges.
What does it take to be successful in the creative
industries? During the second panel discussion of the day, participants will hear from
three businesses at three different levels of success. Ethel Williams of Cocoa & Cream,
Mobile Food and Catering will share her experience going from mom and phlebotomist
to launching a successful food truck business and she'll share tips on how to take a
dvantage of resources available. Publisher, gallery owner and entrepreneur Steve
Martin will talk about creating Art+Design magazine, whose readership spans 12
Hear from Domain Companies Principal, Matt Schwartz about their unique
business model which incorporates arts and culture. This New York and NOLA-based
company is making a huge impact in New Orleans, from the artsy Ace Hotel, to
residential developments to The Shop, shared workspace at the Contemporary Arts
"It's vitally important for creatives to see themselves as businesses, and
conversely, for traditional businesses to recognize the incalculable benefit that creatives
add to their work," adds Aimee Smallwood, panel moderator and CEO for the Louisiana
Cultural Economy Foundation.
At 2:30PM , selected contestants in the Downtown Development District's
Downtown NOLA Arts-Based Business Pitch will vie for the prize of cash and
services with a value over $45,000. "The DDD is proud to once again partner with CANO and LCEF on Creative
Industries Day during NOEW," said DDD President & CEO Kurt Weigle. "Downtown
NOLA is the region's hub of creativity and entrepreneurship, and the DDD is committed
to offering and promoting the resources that allow local artists and entrepreneurs to grow
and succeed. I would like to congratulate our pitch finalists and thank all of the
impressive entrepreneurs who submitted an application."
A reception caps off the evening with a 'What's Up" program offering TED like
summaries of the earlier panels, as well as "Shout Outs" from creative artists, producers
and organizers from neighborhoods around the city.
This evening event is by invitation, with local culinary treats, and refreshments. The event is focused on area and neighborhood arts, business and public leaders and
Those interested in attending this evening event should call Jeanne Nathan at
The 'Baby Dolls' Of Mardi Gras:
A Fun Tradition With
A Serious Side
Just inside a room on the second floor of the Louisiana State Museum's Presbytere, there's a large baby doll dress, big enough for a woman to wear. And one did.
The costume and the baby bottle next to it belonged to 85-year-old Miriam Batiste Reed, who was known as a baby doll and one of the first women to parade in Mardi Gras. The bottle and the dress are part of a new exhibition, They Call Me Baby Doll: A Mardi Gras Tradition.
"The baby dolls are a group of African-American men and women carnival maskers,"
says Kim Vaz, dean at Xavier University. "They would dress up on Mardi Gras day in short satin skirts, with bloomers, and they would have garters."
Vaz, who has written a new book about the baby dolls, says the tradition dates back to 1912, when Jim Crow was the law of the land in the South. It all started in New Orleans' red-light district, which itself was divided along racial lines. The Storyville area, where the sex industry was legal, was for white customers; black customers had to go a few blocks away where prostitution was illegal, but allowed.
"[It was] another manifestation of how Jim Crow worked to disenfranchise black people, even in the most sordid of industries," Vaz says.
Between these two red-light districts, there was a kind of rivalry. One year the women in the black district heard that their counterparts in Storyville were going to dress up for Mardi Gras; they decided they needed to come up with some good costumes to compete.
"And they said, 'Let's just be baby dolls because that's what the men call us. They call us baby dolls,
and let's be red hot,' " Vaz says.
Calling a woman "baby" had just made its way into the popular lexicon, with songs like "Pretty Baby" written by New Orleans native Tony Jackson. There was, however, something subversive about black sex workers dressing this way.
"At that time, baby dolls were very rare and very hard to get," Vaz says. "So it had all that double meaning in it because African-American women weren't considered precious and doll-like."
Just the fact that these prostitutes were masking and going out into the street at all was a big deal. Women just did not do that then. And as sex workers, these women were already taboo. Vaz says they just kept piling on by appropriating males behaviors like smoking cigars and flinging money at the men.
"If you went to touch their garter, they would hurt you," she says.
The baby dolls carried walking sticks they would use in their dances, as well as to defend themselves. It was about fun, Vaz says, but it was a kind of laughter to keep from crying.
"At that time ... residential segregation was practiced, job discrimination was practiced [and] women didn't have the right to vote," she says. "The one way that they could make a statement was through their dance and their dress and their song. It's when you've exhausted all your legal remedies that you have to use the culture to make a statement and express yourself."
They came up with their own dance step they called "walking raddy." Pretty soon, women in more "respectable" neighborhoods started masking baby doll. But desegregation in the 1950s allowed black New Orleanians to do more on Mardi Gras.
Then Interstate Highway 10 was built directly through the neighborhood where African-Americans gathered to celebrate carnival, disrupting many traditions. The baby dolls faded, until several years ago.
On Mardi Gras day this week, one of the highlights of the Zulu Parade was the Baby Doll Ladies. Dressed in royal blue rompers with ruffles and bows, they danced down the street to a New Orleans' style of hip hop called bounce.
The Baby Doll Ladies are the project of Millisia White, who co-curated the new exhibition with Vaz. White is a native New Orleanian and a choreographer, who had just started her own dance company in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. After the storm, she wanted to do something involving dance that celebrated New Orleans culture.
"We weren't necessarily trying to resurrect the times of 1912 in how we dress or how we look or how we present," White says. "If anything is resurrected, it doesn't exactly come back the same because we're not a replica, we're a continuation of the baby doll practice."
White interviewed elders around New Orleans to learn about the tradition. She and her brother, who's a DJ, put together a look and a sound for the new baby dolls, and then they tested it out on Mardi Gras day 2009, four years after Katrina.
"When they saw us on the route ... I kept hearing like, 'Here come the new baby dolls. The baby dolls are back,' " she says. "I could see in people's eyes for the first time ... since Katrina, a glimpse of some kind of hope for a new New Orleans."
It seems history is not just in the past in New Orleans, it's dancing down the street right next to you, maybe wearing bloomers and a bonnet.
Tickets are now available!
Join us at the Sixth Annual Brass Bash, the largest single fundraiser for Luke's House, a clinic for healing and hope.
March 31, 2017
6:30PM to 9:30PM
One Eyed Jacks
615 Toulouse Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
This year's event will have music by Los Po-Boy-Citos, Travers Geoffray, and Knockaz Brass Band!
Brass Bash also features a wine pull, silent auction, and great food.
A highlight of the series is the Ritz Chamber Players.
The Ritz Chamber Players
March 28th, 2017 at 7 PM : UNO's Musical Excursions series presents the Ritz Chamber Players.
Tickets and information
Spring Plant Sale at
Press Street Gardens
Come to Press Street Gardens this Saturday from 10AM to 4PM and stock up on spring plants for your garden. At our Spring Plant Sale, we'll have unique varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in three-packs, four-packs, and four-inch pots. This is also a fantastic time to explore the garden and say hello to our goats and chickens!
Transplants for sale include t
Press Street Gardens is located at 7 Press Street, at the corner of Dauphine.
The Spring Plant Sale is open to the public, and admission is free.
Mardi Gras rides off into the sunset.
James Andrews is crazy about Bob Tannen! Here, the two catch up in the French Quarter.
Celebrate Spring with Handmade, Brightly Colored Billie Beads
Billie Beads, as seen here in an over-the-top assemblage for Mardi Gras, are handmade in the Coney Island studio of Billie Tannen & Bob Nielsen. Working in polymer clay and Swarovski crystals, they create artworks, jewelry and accessories in the ancient tradition of Millefiore.
Find colorful and intricate necklaces, keychains, treasure boxes, piggy banks and more. Perfect for gift-giving (all come eco-wrapped) or a treat for yourself. They're eye candy!
Visit the Billie Beads Etsy Shop
Click the logo
for more details.
N.E.W.S. From Crosstown Conversations
Executive Editor: Jeanne Nathan
Editor: Juli Shipley
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