Your voice is needed today, at 5p in Congo Square and 6p at City Hall, to speak truth to power, to demand fair consideration, to resist, resist, resist the disrespect, the contextual foreshadowing, and intended harmful outcomes.  Please and abundant thanks!


Galveston was the last place where enslaved Americans, who were of African descent, learned their enslavement was illegal.  New Orleans was the first.  According to the New York Times, Feb 2, 1863:

“Let Saturday, Jan. 17, be long remembered as the day when the people of New-Orleans came together and acted officially upon the Emancipation Proclamation of the President. Let it be remembered that on the day alluded to, the St. Charles Theatre, the largest building in the City of New-Orleans was crowded with old citizens, with people who had been life-long slaveholders -- mostly natives of the late Slave States -- the speakers without an exception having been born south of Mason and Dixon's line, a distinction now politically without meaning. An audience composed of such people, and addressed by such speakers, without a dissenting voice, and with vociferuos cheers, adopted the following resolution:

Resolved, That we are prepared to sustain the Government of the Union in all measures adopted for the suppression of the rebellion, and that we fully approve the war measure set out in the Proclamation of the President, of Jan. 1, 1863, as one called for by the exigencies of the contest, consummating at once an act of justice to one class, and inflicting at the same time on another class persisting in rebellion the blow best calculated to reduce then to obedience to the laws.
If anything can take place that will shame the Secessionists of the Free States into decency and patriotism, this resolution, and the circumstances under which it was heralded to the world, should do it.”
It’s the disrespect for me.
Welllll, now we know, they ain’t ever been shamed and their political legacies are on and poppin’ today.  It’s as if we’re not citizens, not residents, not business & civic leaders, not stakeholders, not the sources of industry, not taxpayers, not voters.  As a former worker in local government, I’ve witnessed residents of some communities get their pothole complaints elevated to levels of national security (even if they don’t fix ‘em, they at least respond), while folks in the neighborhoods I call home hardly ever even get a thoughtful response to historic injustices, including the policy-designed plunder of our intergenerational wealth.  And yes, we love our leaders, they are family—but since when somebody in the family don’t have to answer to MaMaw? And many of the biggest mamas I know have been systematically ignored by leadership in their requests for feedback and input into a cataclysmic public development with wide ranging impacts on community quality of life.  That is until the press got involved…so we must demand more authentic, less performative, family ties.  

It’s the context for me.
Throughout our over three-hundred-year history here, Congo Square and the surrounding communities have represented ground zero in the African/Indigenous battles for freedom, humanity, dignity, rights, and equity.  From the early 1720’s there were many such places of culture and commerce all over the city, wherever we lived and made communion with each other.  In 1817, Mayor de Macarty created an ordinance prohibiting all other “free” Black spaces, requiring us to come together at Congo Square.  Like all things forced on their personhood, Ancestors made the best out of it, so much so, the creations they seeded in that space continue to impact music, food, dance, and cultural traditions throughout the world.  Most specifically, it continues to provide the basis of wealth for the biggest industry of New Orleans.  However, the battle scars are many as the space and the people have been under constant attack from lawmakers and private developers ever since.  And the fact that the current City Hall sits on Battlefield, the “usedta be” Black neighborhood where Louis Armstrong grew up, lets us know the community’s intended fate.  How do we know it is intended? Because absolutely no policy has been put in place to prevent it.

It’s the outcomes for me. 
With historic residents battling violent, aggressive racial, cultural, and economic displacement, and all neighborhoods facing raging housing affordability crises…
With a government that has no demonstrated commitment to or history of achieving equitable outcomes in its development projects…

With EVERY SINGLE ARTIST AND CULTUREBEARER we’ve spoken to outpouring their opposition to the current plan of action, especially those folks you may have been told otherwise about…

And with our leaders being duty-bound to do something about it all of this, yet choosing to stake their flag in a project that is guaranteed, according to the numbers, to do massive harm…

Your voice is needed today, at 5p in Congo Square and 6p at City Hall, to speak truth to power, to demand fair consideration, to resist, resist, resist the disrespect, the contextual foreshadowing, and intended harmful outcomes.  Please and abundant thanks!

Ashé Cultural Arts Center’s Soul-cial Justice Summer is a 3-month series of events designed to remember our past and reimagine our future through healing, restoration, and justice.

Soul-cial Justice Summer programming is designed to utilize culture in fostering human development and civic engagement by encouraging discussion and critical thinking about the political, historical, and cultural context of inequality and resistance that we so often face but rarely ever resolve. The Soul-cial Justice Summer programming seeks to engage the community in the movement towards an inclusive civil society for all individuals.

Check out this week's Soul-cial Justice Summer events:

The Art of Protest, March on City Hall
June 17, 2021
5 pm - Rally at Louis Armstrong Park
6 pm - March to City Hall

As critical reflections of community values and community voice, the role of artist and culture bearers in social justice movements has always been pivotal. As the heart of New Orleans' artist and culture bearer communities fight for their survival by resisting the government takeover of cultural space, Ashé supports the art of protest and the right of artist and culture bearers to amplify their messages. We invite the community to come take a stand against the move of City Hall onto the historical and sacred grounds of Congo Square, where our enslaved Ancestors held space for celebration and survival of African-ness...with their culture, commerce, and resistance!

Freedom Riders for Voting Rights!
June 18, 2021 / 10:30 am - 12n
Ashé Cultural Arts Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70113

Join us at Ashé on Friday, June 18th along with the Black Panther Party Vanguard, as we welcome and serve our celebrated and venerated Freedom Riders on the 60th anniversary of their historic sacrifice! Hear from Freedom Rider, Civil Rights Icon, and New Orleans native Jerome “Big Duck” Smith.

Black Voters Matter is kicking off their Freedom Ride for Voting Rights in New Orleans Friday, June 18th! They’re boarding “the Blackest bus in America” on Juneteeth for a reverse Freedom Ride from the South to D.C. to continue the fight for voting rights! After our people showed up and showed out for last year’s presidential election, racist lawmakers around the country got to work moving to enact voter suppression laws across the country. The Freedom Ride for Voting Rights will travel to nine cities encouraging folks to vote, raising awareness about the oppressive legislation designed to silence us, and empowering communities to fight back against racist laws.

Favorite Fathers Brunch
June 19, 2021
Ashé Cultural Arts Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70113

Our Favorite Fathers Brunch honors men who are making a difference in the lives of families and communities in New Orleans. This powerful event spotlights men across the spectrum of fatherhood — men who celebrate culture, fight for equity, honor legacy, and uplift communities. We call these men “Baba” — a denotation of “father” in African cultures.

In becoming an Ashé Cultural Arts Center Favorite Father, men join a community of over 500 men who are shepherding in the next generation with positivity, emotional intelligence, strength, and passion. In addition to honoring these men, we are also commemorating great fathers nationwide whose lives have been taken too soon by police brutality.

We are excited to partner with Shea Moisture for Men this year to provide our Favorite Fathers with a self-care package.

Juneteenth Community Health Fair
June 19, 2021 / 12 pm - 4 pm
Ashé Cultural Arts Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70113

In partnership with New Orleans East Hospital, Ashé Cultural Arts Center is inviting all members of the community to a day of self care and wellness featuring free screenings, healing work, vaccines, and more.

The goal is early detection and lifestyle changes or surveillance, to reduce the risk of disease, or to detect it early enough to treat it most effectively. It is no secret that the American health care system is plagued with inequities that have a disproportionate impact on people of color. Especially here at home where we experience a 15-25 year difference in life expectancy. Come be in communion with community and receive your free screening results the same day!

Juneteenth Celebration
June 19, 2021 / 7 pm - 9 pm
Ashé Cultural Arts Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70113

Join in on the rhythm of our ancestors, June 19, 2021 from 7 pm to 9 pm in the Ashé Cultural Arts Center parking lot for the Juneteenth drum circle featuring drummers, dancers, healers, artists, activist, and musicians as we celebrate this historical date and pay tribute in honoring Portia Pollock, a 60-year-old physical therapist and Kuumba drum instructor at Ashé Cultural Arts Center, who was fatally stabbed in the chest and carjacked in front of her home in the 7th Ward Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Ashé will be dedicating a drum circle Saturday night at 7pm to commemorate the life and legacy of Portia. Funeral services for Portia Pollock will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 19th, at Rhodes Funeral Home, 3933 Washington Ave., New Orleans, LA 70125.

For more information visit: or call (504) 569-9070

Stay tuned for more Soul-cial Justice Summer events!