New Orleans’ Return To Cultural Parades Is A Step Toward Healing In The South


Mardi Gras Indians gather outside Treme Recreation Community Center, play music, and chant as they wait for the funeral services of Keelian Boyd, or Big Chief “Dump”, to end. April 10, 2021. Shalina Chatlani/Gulf States Newsroom.

New Orleans was a hotspot for COVID-19 cases and deaths at the start of the pandemic and many of the attractions that bring people in from across the region – from Jazz Fest to the bustling bar scene on Bourbon Street – were halted. But an event last month offered a glimmer of a hope for a return to normalcy.

New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians held a second line funeral, a parade for family, friends and strangers to honor local icon Keelian Boyd, otherwise known as Big Chief Dump, of the Young Maasai Hunters tribe. He died from heart failure March 28, 2021. 

It was one of the first major Mardi Gras Indian burials and parades since the city shut down.

 New Orleans is now in modified Phase 3, where social distancing and masks are still required, but gatherings of 500 people and live music are permitted. City officials say second line parades are only allowed with permits. 

During this pandemic, this is like one of the first big culture events, so it’s like bringing a family together,” said Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste, of the Yellow Pocahontas tribe.

See more photos and read the full story from our partners at WWNO here.

This story was produced by the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration between WBHM, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, WWNO in New Orleans and NPR. 

More Arts and Culture Coverage

To Curb Gun Violence In Gulf States, Activists Are Taking A Closer Look At Policing Alternatives

Over Memorial Day weekend, at least 26 shootings were reported in major cities across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. At least 10 people were killed and 17 others were injured. It was the latest example of rising homicides and gun violence across the Gulf states this year.

People in Alabama Prisons Confused, Frustrated As State Officials Withhold Their Stimulus Checks

Thousands of people in Alabama prisons received COVID-19 stimulus payments from the federal government, but state officials are holding the checks. They say people in prison will get their money, but maybe not all of it.

Birmingham Mayor Combats Violence Against Children With $125K Incentive

Since January of this year, six children under the age of 10 have been shot in Birmingham, according to police reports. Only one of the shooting incidents has led to an arrest.

Controversial New Alzheimer’s Drug Approved Despite Reservations

The drug, aducanumab, is expected to help slow the progression of the disease, but not to improve current memory impairments, according to a release from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Why Alabama’s Declining Vaccination Rate Could Spell An ‘Uncomfortable Summer’

Close to 70% of Alabamians are still not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but many people have stopped wearing masks and returned to normal activities.

Birmingham City Council To Hear $13 Million Vaccine Sweepstakes Proposal Tuesday

Council President William Parker's plan includes gift cards, savings bonds, college scholarships and drawings in an attempt to encourage more people get vaccinated against COVID-19.

More Arts and Culture Coverage