Until a few weeks ago, one of the only places in downtown New Orleans acknowledging the city’s slave-trading past was a marker in Congo Square, erected in 1997. The New Orleans Committee to Erect Historic Markers on the Slave Trade has since put up two new markers, one on the transatlantic slave trade along the Moonwalk and another on the domestic slave trade at the intersection of Esplanade Avenue and Chartres Street. Author and historian Freddi Williams Evans and activist Luther Gray are the two original co-chairs of the committee.
In this episode, Evans and Gray describe New Orleans’s past as the center of the overlapping international and domestic slave trades. They also discuss their conservation efforts at Congo Square, the logistics of erecting the markers with a sankofa bird instead of a pelican at the top, and the Maafa ceremony, which will host the unveiling of these markers later this year.
This episode was recorded on May 10, 2018 in New Orleans. Committee members mentioned in this episode are Guy Hughes, Leon Waters, Ibrahima Seck, Erin Greenwald, Joshua Rothman, Joyce Miller, and Midlo Hall. Steve Prince designed the logo for the transatlantic marker.
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Guests:Freddi Williams Evans
Topics Discussed:00:00: Intro
00:14: The New Orleans Committee to Erect Historic Markers on the Slave Trade
00:35: Freddi Williams Evans and Luther Gray
01:13: Origins of the Committee
01:45: The History of Gatherings in Congo Square
03:30: The International Slave Trade and the Domestic Slave Trade in Louisiana
06:20: The Lack of Documentation of African Presence in New Orleans
07:00: The Preservation of Congo Square
08:02: The Logistics of Setting Up Markers
10:34: Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project
11:11: The Maafa Ceremony