BLSA Program: The African American Experience in New Orleans

Southern Illinois University



BLSA Program: The African American Experience in New Orleans

February 26, 2015

${image-alt} Program Speakers, from left: William Burton, Jr., Twinette Johnson, Robert Anthony Ketchens

In recognition of Black History Month, SIU Law's Black Law Student Association (BLSA) hosted a program that explored the African American Experience in New Orleans. 

The program included artist talks by William Burton, Jr. and Robert A. Ketchens about their experiences researching and creating art that portrays the history of jazz music.

This is the second part of a series documenting the African American contributions to American music. 

Last year BLSA hosted a program about the first part of the series which documented the birth of Blues in the Mississippi Delta region: "A Song from the Field: An Investigation of the Black Experience in the Delta."  

Art from both exhibits is on display at the 14th Street Artist Community Gallery in St. Louis, Mo, where Burton and Ketchens are resident artists.

Following the artist talks, Assistant Professor Twinette Johnson presented "Civil Rights and Mardi Gras." As a native of New Orleans, Johnson shared her memories and photos of growing up with the experience of the Mardi Gras festival primarily as special 'family time.'

After giving an overview of the Mardi Gras Parade Krewes, she discussed the ordinance introduced by New Orleans City Council Woman Dorothy Mae Taylor in 1991 to desegregate the krewes. 

In its final form, Taylor’s ordinance would prohibit any club, marching society or parade organization sponsoring public Mardi Gras activities from excluding anyone from membership because of "race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, ancestry …” or unreasonably excluding anyone based on “age, sex, physical condition or disability."  

Following the presentations, students, faculty and staff joined the presenters for a reception in the Formal Lounge.

Support was provided by the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), Phi Delta Phi, Westlaw, Legacy Training and Development Corporation, and the SIU School of Law.