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Shortly after it was founded as a French colony, enslaved Africans were brought to Louisiana to build the city of New Orleans. Quite literally, they built the majority of the structures you see in the French Quarter, the original footprint of the city. We owe a great debt to them, not just because they endured centuries of forced, unpaid labor, but also because many of the things most commonly associated with the City of New Orleans descend from these enslaved and free people of color, as cultural traditions were preserved from generation to generation. They deserve to be recognized beyond the subjugated roles in which they were cast, and given as much credit for their contributions to the city as the French, the Spanish, and the Americans.
As the birthplace of jazz, with a rich West African culinary influence, varied religious customs, and more, there is hardly a sector of New Orleans that hasn’t been influenced by African American history. Turry Flucker and Phoenix Savage highlight many of these 19th and 20th century figures including Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Homer Plessy, Marie Laveau and Buddy Bolden, among others.